Imidazole antifungal compounds exert their antipathogenic effects through inhibition of sterol biosyn-thesis. These drugs have also recently been identified as candidate anticancer agents for several solid tumors including glioblastoma. However, their effects on glioma-initiating cells (GICs), i.e., glioma cells with stemlike properties that are able to initiate tumors, remain unclear. Consequently, we examined the effects of the optically active imidazole compound luliconazole on mouse GICs and GIC-based tumors. Luliconazole impaired in a concentration-dependent manner the growth of spheres formed by GICs in vitro. In contrast to the inhibitory effects of ionizing radiation and temozolomide on sphere growth, that of luliconazole was attenuated by the addition of exogenous cholesterol. Exposure to luliconazole of brain slices derived from mice with orthotopic GIC implants for 4 days in culture resulted in a marked increase in the number of tumor cells positive for cleaved caspase-3, but without a similar effect on nor-mal cells. Furthermore, in brain slices, luliconazole inhibited the expansion of GIC-based tumors and the parenchymal infiltration of tumor cells. Our findings therefore indicate that luliconazole effectively targets GICs, thereby providing further support for the antitumorigenic effects of imidazole antifungal compounds.
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