CD34 microvascularity in low-grade glioma: correlation with 5-aminolevulinic acid fluorescence and patient prognosis in a multicenter study at three specialized centers

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, Medical University of Vienna, Austria;
  • | 2 Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Münster, Germany;
  • | 3 Division of Neuropathology and Neurochemistry, Department of Neurology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria;
  • | 4 Center for Cancer Research, Medical University of Vienna, Austria;
  • | 5 Department of Pathology, University of California, San Francisco, California;
  • | 6 Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California; and
  • | 7 Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine I, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
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OBJECTIVE

Early markers are urgently needed in low-grade glioma (LGG) evaluation to rapidly estimate the individual patient’s prognosis and to determine the optimal postoperative management. Generally, visible 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) fluorescence is present in only a few LGGs. Recently, the authors identified visible 5-ALA fluorescence as a powerful intraoperative marker for unfavorable outcome in LGG treatment. However, its precise histopathological correlate is unclear. Neoangiogenesis represents a crucial event in tumor evolution, and CD34 is an established marker for vascular endothelial progenitors potentially indicating tumor progression. The aim of this study was thus to correlate 5-ALA fluorescence and CD34 microvascularity as well as to investigate the prognostic value of CD34 in a large series of LGGs.

METHODS

In this retrospective study including 3 specialized centers, patients with histopathologically confirmed isocitrate dehydrogenase–mutated LGGs (WHO grade II) receiving 5-ALA prior to resection were included. During surgery, the presence of visible fluorescence was analyzed and one representative tumor sample from the area with the maximum fluorescence effect (tumor with focal fluorescence or nonfluorescing tumor) was selected for each LGG. All fluorescing or nonfluorescing tumor samples were stained for CD34 and semiquantitatively analyzed for microvascular proliferation patterns (physiological vessels, branching capillaries, or microvessel clusters) as well as automatically quantified for CD34 microvessel density (MVD) by standardized histomorphometry software. These semiquantitative/quantitative CD34 data were correlated to the fluorescence status and patient outcome including progression-free survival (PFS), malignant transformation–free survival (MTFS), and overall survival (OS).

RESULTS

In a total of 86 LGGs, visible fluorescence was found during surgery in 13 (15%) cases. First, the semiquantitative CD34 score significantly correlated with intraoperative fluorescence (p = 0.049). Accordingly, the quantitative CD34 MVD was significantly higher in tumors showing fluorescence (p = 0.03). Altogether, the semiquantitative CD34 score showed a strong correlation with quantitative CD34 MVD (p < 0.001). At a mean follow-up of 5.4 ± 2.6 years, microvessel clusters in semiquantitative analysis were a prognostic marker for poor PFS (p = 0.01) and MTFS (p = 0.006), but not OS (p = 0.28). Finally, quantitative CD34 MVD > 10 vessels/mm2 was a prognostic marker for poor PFS (p = 0.01), MTFS (p = 0.008), and OS (p = 0.049).

CONCLUSIONS

The data indicate that CD34 microvascularity is associated with intraoperative 5-ALA fluorescence and outcomes in patients with LGG. Thus, visible fluorescence in LGGs might indicate increased CD34 microvascularity, serving as an early prognostic marker for unfavorable patient outcome that is already available during surgery.

ABBREVIATIONS

5-ALA = 5-aminolevulinic acid; CE = contrast enhancement; HGG = high-grade glioma; IDH = isocitrate dehydrogenase; LGG = low-grade glioma; MTFS = malignant transformation–free survival; MUV = Medical University of Vienna; MVD = microvessel density; OS = overall survival; PFS = progression-free survival; PpIX = protoporphyrin IX; UCSF = University of California, San Francisco; UHM = University Hospital Münster.

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