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Jie Lu, Alexander Ksendzovsky, Chunzhang Yang, Gautam U. Mehta, Raymund L. Yong, Robert J. Weil, Deric M. Park, Harry M. Mushlin, Xueping Fang, Brian M. Balgley, Dae-Hee Lee, Cheng S. Lee, Russell R. Lonser, and Zhengping Zhuang

Object

Tumor-initiating cells are uniquely resilient to current treatment modalities and play an important role in tumor resistance and recurrence. The lack of specific tumor-initiating cell markers to identify and target these cells presents a major obstacle to effective directed therapy.

Methods

To identify tumor-initiating cell markers in primary brain tumors, the authors compared the proteomes of glioma tumor-initiating cells to their differentiated progeny using a novel, nongel/shotgun-based, multidimensional liquid-chromatography protein separation technique. An in vivo xenograft model was used to demonstrate the tumorigenic and stem cell properties of these cells. Western blot and immunofluorescence analyses were used to confirm findings of upregulated ciliary neurotrophic factor receptor subunit–α (CNTFRα) in undifferentiated tumor-initiating cells and gliomas of increasing tumor grade. Sequencing of the CNTFRα coding regions was performed for mutation analysis. Finally, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity was used to establish the role of CNTFRα as a potential immunotherapeutic target.

Results

Ciliary neurotrophic factor receptor subunit–α expression was increased in tumor-initiating cells and was decreased in the cells' differentiated progeny, and expression levels increased with glioma grade. Mutations of CNTFRα are not common in gliomas. Functional studies using CNTF treatment in glioma tumor-initiating cells showed induction of differentiation through the CNTFRα pathway. Treatment with anti-CNTFRα antibody resulted in increased antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity in CNTFRα expressing DAOY cells but not in cell lines that lack CNTFRα.

Conclusions

These data indicate that CNTFRα plays a role in the formation or maintenance of tumor-initiating cells in gliomas, is a marker that correlates with histological grade, may underlie treatment resistance in some cases, and is a potential therapeutic target.

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Zhengping Zhuang, Meng Qi, Jie Li, Hiroaki Okamoto, David S. Xu, Rajiv R. Iyer, Jie Lu, Chunzhang Yang, Robert J. Weil, Alexander Vortmeyer, and Russell R. Lonser

Object

Astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas are primary CNS tumors that remain a challenge to differentiate histologically because of their morphological variability and because there is a lack of reliable differential diagnostic markers. To identify proteins that are differentially expressed between astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas, the authors analyzed the proteomic expression patterns and identified uniquely expressed proteins in these neoplasms.

Methods

Proteomes of astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas were analyzed using 2D gel electrophoresis and subsequent computerized gel analysis to detect differentially expressed proteins. The proteins were identified using high-performance liquid chromatography accompanied by tandem mass spectrometry. To determine the role of the differentially expressed proteins in astrocytes, undifferentiated glial cell cultures were treated with dibutyryl–cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).

Results

Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed that glutamine synthetase was differentially expressed in astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas. Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses confirmed the increased expression of glutamine synthetase in astrocytomas compared with oligodendrogliomas. Whereas glutamine synthetase expression was demonstrated across all grades of astrocytomas (Grade II–IV [15 tumors]) and oligoastrocytomas (4 tumors), it was expressed in only 1 oligodendroglioma (6% [16 tumors]). Treatment of undifferentiated glial cell cultures with dibutyryl-cAMP resulted in astrocyte differentiation that was associated with increased levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein and glutamine synthetase.

Conclusions

These data indicate that glutamine synthetase expression can be used to distinguish astrocytic from oligodendroglial tumors and may play a role in the pathogenesis of astrocytomas.

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Russell R. Lonser, Ronald R. Buggage, and Robert J. Weil

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Robert J. Weil, Russell R. Lonser, Hetty L. Devroom, John E. Wanebo, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Hemangioblastomas of the brainstem constitute 5 to 10% of central nervous system (CNS) tumors in patients with von Hippel—Lindau (VHL) disease. At present, optimal management of brainstem hemangioblastomas associated with VHL disease is incompletely defined. In an attempt to clarify some of the uncertainty about the operative treatment of these lesions and its outcome, the authors reviewed all cases of VHL disease in which resection of brainstem hemangioblastomas was performed at the National Institutes of Health during a 10-year period.

Methods. Twelve consecutive patients with VHL disease (six male and six female patients [mean age 31.7 ± 9 years; range 15–46 years]) who underwent 13 operations to remove 17 brainstem hemangioblastomas were included in this study (mean follow-up period, 88.4 ± 37.4 months; range 37–144 months). Serial examinations, hospital charts, magnetic resonance images, and operative records were reviewed. To evaluate clinical course, clinical grades were assigned to each patient before and after surgery.

Preoperative neurological function was the best predictor of long-term outcome. In addition, patients who underwent CNS surgeries for hemangioblastomas were more likely to improve or to remain neurologically stable. Tumor or cyst size, the presence of a cyst, or the location of the tumor (intramedullary, extramedullary, or mixed; posterior medullary, obex, or lateral) did not affect outcome. No patient was neurologically worse after brainstem surgery. At long-term follow-up review (mean 88.4 months), only one patient had declined neurologically and this was due to the cumulative neurological effects caused by eight additional hemangioblastomas of the spinal cord and their surgical treatment.

Conclusions. Brainstem hemangioblastomas in patients with VHL disease can be removed safely; they generally should be resected when they become symptomatic or when the tumor has reached a size such that further growth will increase the risks associated with surgery, or in the presence of an enlarging cyst. Magnetic resonance imaging is usually sufficient for preoperative evaluation and presurgical embolization is unnecessary. The goal of surgery is complete resection of the lesion before the patient experiences a disabling neurological deficit.

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Russell R. Lonser, Robert J. Weil, John E. Wanebo, Hetty L. Devroom, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Von Hippel—Lindau (VHL) disease is an autosomal-dominant disorder frequently associated with hemangioblastomas of the spinal cord. Because of the slow progression, protean nature, and high frequency of multiple spinal hemangioblastomas associated with VHL disease, the surgical management of these lesions is complex. Because prior reports have not identified the factors that predict which patients with spinal cord hemangioblastomas need surgery or what outcomes of this procedure should be expected, the authors have reviewed a series of patients with VHL disease who underwent resection of spinal hemangioblastomas at a single institution to identify features that might guide surgical management of these patients.

Methods. Forty-four consecutive patients with VHL disease (26 men and 18 women) who underwent 55 operations with resection of 86 spinal cord hemangioblastomas (mean age at surgery 34 years; range 20–58 years) at the National Institutes of Health were included in this study (mean clinical follow up 44 months). Patient examination, review of hospital charts, operative findings, and magnetic resonance imaging studies were used to analyze surgical management and its outcome. To evaluate the clinical course, clinical grades were assigned to patients before and after surgery. Preoperative neurological status, tumor size, and tumor location were predictive of postoperative outcome. Patients with no or minimal preoperative neurological dysfunction, with lesions smaller than 500 mm3, and with dorsal lesions were more likely to have no or minimal neurological impairment. Syrinx resolution was the result of tumor removal and was not influenced by whether the syrinx cavity was entered.

Conclusions. Spinal cord hemangioblastomas can be safely removed in the majority of patients with VHL disease. Generally in these patients, hemangioblastomas of the spinal cord should be removed when they produce symptoms or signs.

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Russell R. Lonser, Robert J. Weil, Paul F. Morrison, Lance S. Governale, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Although many macromolecules have treatment potential for peripheral nerve disease, clinical use of these agents has been restricted because of limitations of delivery including systemic toxicity, heterogeneous dispersion, and inadequate distribution. In an effort to overcome these obstacles, the authors examined the use of convection to deliver and distribute macromolecules into peripheral nerves.

Methods. For convective delivery, the authors used a gas-tight, noncompliant system that provided continuous flow through a small silica cannula (inner diameter 100 µm, outer diameter 170 µm) inserted into a peripheral nerve. Increases in the volume of infusion (Vi) (10, 20, 30, 40, and 80 µl) of 14C-labeled (nine nerves) or gadolinium-labeled (two nerves) albumin were infused unilaterally or bilaterally into the tibial nerves of six primates (Macaca mulatta) at 0.5 µl/minute. The volume of distribution (Vd), percentage recovery, and delivery homogeneity were determined using quantitative autoradiography, an imaging program developed by the National Institutes of Health, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, scintillation counting, and kurtosis (K) analysis. One animal that was infused bilaterally with gadolinium-bound albumin (40 µl to each nerve) underwent MR imaging and was observed for 16 weeks after infusion.

The Vd increased with the Vi in a logarithmic fashion. The mean Vd/Vi ratio over all Vi was 3.7 ± 0.8 (mean ± standard deviation). The concentration across the perfused region was homogeneous (K = −1.07). The infusate, which was limited circumferentially by the epineurium, followed the parallel arrangement of axonal fibers and filled long segments of nerve (up to 6.8 cm). Recovery of radioactivity was 75.8 ± 9%. No neurological deficits arose from infusion.

Conclusions. Convective delivery of macromolecules to peripheral nerves is safe and reliable. It overcomes obstacles associated with current delivery methods and allows selective regional delivery of putative therapeutic agents to long sections of nerve. This technique should permit the development of new treatments for numerous types of peripheral nerve lesions.