Dexamethasone in glioblastoma multiforme therapy: Mechanisms and controversies

Marta Cenciarini, Mario Valentino, Silvia Belia, Luigi Sforna, Paolo Rosa, Simona Ronchetti, Maria Cristina D’Adamo, Mauro Pessia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and malignant of the glial tumors. The world-wide estimates of new cases and deaths annually are remarkable, making GBM a crucial public health issue. Despite the combination of radical surgery, radio and chemotherapy prognosis is extremely poor (median survival is approximately 1 year). Thus, current therapeutic interventions are highly unsatisfactory. For many years, GBM-induced brain oedema and inflammation have been widely treated with dexamethasone (DEX), a synthetic glucocorticoid (GC). A number of studies have reported that DEX also inhibits GBM cell proliferation and migration. Nevertheless, recent controversial results provided by different laboratories have challenged the widely accepted dogma concerning DEX therapy for GBM. Here, we have reviewed the main clinical features and genetic and epigenetic abnormalities underlying GBM. Finally, we analyzed current notions and concerns related to DEX effects on cerebral oedema, cancer cell proliferation and migration and clinical outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number65
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Feb 12 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral oedema
  • Dexamethasone
  • GBM
  • Glioblastoma multiforme therapy
  • Pharmacogenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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