✓ Hemangioblastomas of the central nervous system (CNS) may occur sporadically or in association with von Hippel—Lindau (VHL) syndrome. The authors present four patients with no family history or clinical evidence of VHL syndrome in whom extensive, progressive, en plaque coating of the brainstem and spinal cord with hemangioblastomas developed 1 to 8 years after complete resection of a solitary cerebellar hemangioblastoma.
Analysis included detailed physical, biochemical, radiological, and pathological examinations in all four patients, combined with family pedigree analysis. In addition, a detailed investigation of the VHL gene was undertaken. Allelic loss, comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), single-stranded conformational polymorphism screening, CpG island methylation status, and X chromosome inactivation clonality analyses were performed. Although there was no evidence of germline alterations in the VHL gene on clinical and radiological examination or in the family history (all four patients) or analysis of peripheral blood (three patients), somatic deletion of one copy of the VHL gene occurred in these tumors. These findings indicate that the multiple, separate deposits of tumors were likely derived from a single clone. Results of CGH indicate that one or several additional genes are probably involved in the malignant behavior of the hemangioblastomas in these patients. Furthermore, the malignant biological and clinical behavior of these tumors, in which multiple sites of subarachnoid dissemination developed 1 to 8 years after initial complete resection, followed by progressive tumor growth and death of the patients, occurred despite a histological appearance typical of benign hemangioblastomas.
Malignant hemangioblastomatosis developed 1 to 8 years after resection of an isolated cerebellar hemangioblastoma. Alterations of the VHL gene may be permissive in this setting, but other genes are likely to be the source of the novel biological and clinical presentation of the disseminated hemangioblastomas in these patients. This appears to represent a novel condition in which the product of one or more mutations in several genes permits malignant tumor behavior despite retention of a benign histological picture, a circumstance previously not recognized in CNS tumors.