Adult brainstem gliomas are rare entities that demonstrate heterogeneous biology and appear to be distinct from both their pediatric counterparts and adult supratentorial gliomas. Although the role of histone 3 mutations is being increasingly understood in this disease, the effect of isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) mutations remains unclear, largely because of limited data.
The authors present the case of a 29-year-old male with an IDH1-mutant, World Health Organization grade III anaplastic astrocytoma in the dorsal medulla, and they provide a review of the available literature on adult IDH-mutant brainstem glioma. The authors have amassed a cohort of 15 such patients, 7 of whom have survival data available. Median survival is 56 months in this small cohort, which is similar to that for IDH wild-type adult brainstem gliomas.
The authors’ work reenforces previous literature suggesting that the role of IDH mutation in glioma differs between brainstem and supratentorial lesions. Therefore, the authors advocate that adult brainstem gliomas be studied in terms of major molecular subgroups (including IDH mutant) because these gliomas may exhibit fundamental differences from each other, from pediatric brainstem gliomas, and from adult supratentorial gliomas.