Liposomal delivery of ferritin heavy chain 1 (FTH1) siRNA in patient xenograft derived glioblastoma initiating cells suggests different sensitivities to radiation and distinct survival mechanisms

Vagisha Ravi, Achuthamangalam B. Madhankumar, Thomas Abraham, Becky Slagle-Webb, James R. Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Elevated expression of the iron regulatory protein, ferritin heavy chain 1 (FTH1), is increasingly being associated with high tumor grade and poor survival outcomes in glioblastoma. Glioma initiating cells (GICs), a small population of stem-like cells implicated in therapeutic resistance and glioblastoma recurrence, have recently been shown to exhibit increased FTH1 expression. We previously demonstrated that FTH1 knockdown enhanced therapeutic sensitivity in an astrocytoma cell line. Therefore, in this study we developed a liposomal formulation to enable the in vitro delivery of FTH1 siRNA in patient xenograft derived GICs from glioblastomas with pro-neural and mesenchymal transcriptional signatures to interrogate the effect of FTH1 downregulation on their radiation sensitivity. Transfection with siRNA decreased FTH1 expression significantly in both GICs. However, there were inherent differences in transfectability between pro-neural and mesenchymal tumor derived GICs, leading us to modify siRNA: Liposome ratios for comparable transfection. Moreover, loss of FTH1 expression resulted in increased extracellular lactate dehydrogenase activity, executioner caspase 3/7 induction, substantial mitochondrial damage, diminished mitochondrial mass and reduced cell viability. However, only GICs from pro-neural glioblastoma showed marked increase in radiosensitivity upon FTH1 downregulation demonstrated by decreased cell viability, impaired DNA repair and reduced colony formation subsequent to radiation. In addition, the stemness marker Nestin was downregulated upon FTH1 silencing only in GICs of pro-neural but not mesenchymal origin. Using liposomes as a siRNA delivery system, we established FTH1 as a critical factor for survival in both GIC subtypes as well as a regulator of radioresistance and stemness in pro-neural tumor derived GICs. Our study provides further evidence to support the role of FTH1 as a promising target in glioblastoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0221952
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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