Glioblastoma multiforme represents one of the deadliest brain tumor types, manifested by a high rate of recurrence and poor prognosis. The presence of glioma stem cells (GSCs) can repopulate the tumor posttreatment and resist therapeutics. A better understanding of GSC biology is essential for developing more effective interventions. We established a CD133 promoter-driven dual reporter, expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) and firefly luciferase (CD133-LG), capable for in vitro and in vivo imaging of CD133+ GSCs. We first demonstrated the reporter enabled in vitro analyses of GSCs. DBTRG-05MG (Denver Brain Tumor Research Group 05) carrying CD133-LG (DBTRG-05MG-CD133-LG) system reported increased GFP/luciferase activities in neurospheres. Additionally, we identified and isolated CD133+/GFP+ cells with increased tumorigenic properties, stemness markers, Notch1, β-catenin, and Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (Btk). Furthermore, prolonged temozolomide (TMZ) treatment enriched GSCs (reflected by increased percentage of CD133+ cells). Subsequently, Btk inhibitor, ibrutinib, suppressed GSC generation and stemness markers. Finally, we demonstrated real-time evaluation of anti-GSC function of ibrutinib in vivo with TMZ-enriched GSCs. Tumorigenesis was noninvasively monitored by bioluminescence imaging and mice that received ibrutinib showed a significantly lower tumor burden, indicating ibrutinib as a potential GSC inhibitor. In conclusion, we established a dual optical imaging system which enables the identification of CD133+ GSCs and screening for anti-GSC drugs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Imaging
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Btk inhibitor
  • CD133
  • dual optical imaging system
  • glioma stem cells (GSCs)
  • temozolomide resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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