Neurosurgical Focus
Volume 56 (2024): Issue 2 (Feb 2024): Low-Grade Glioma in Adults: Contemporary Management

Figure from Ekert et al. (E7).

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The definition, comprehension, and management of low-grade glioma (LGG) patients have dramatically changed in the 2 last decades, from a traditional wait-and-see attitude to an early active therapeutic strategy. This change has resulted in an improvement of both oncological and functional outcomes. , However, the mechanisms underpinning LGG progression, especially its malignant transformation, are still unclear, thereby making it difficult to accurately predict the optimal timing for treatment while preserving quality of life.

This issue of Neurosurgical Focus reflects recent improvements in the identification of predictive factors of aggressiveness, with the ultimate

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OBJECTIVE

Several studies have compared the immune microenvironment of isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH)–wildtype glioma versus IDH-mutant glioma. The authors sought to determine whether histological tumor progression in a subset of IDH-mutant glioma was associated with concomitant alterations in the intratumoral immune microenvironment.

METHODS

The authors performed bulk RNA sequencing on paired and unpaired samples from patients with IDH-mutant glioma who underwent surgery for tumor progression across multiple timepoints. They compared patterns of differential gene expression, overall inflammatory signatures, and transcriptomic measures of relative immune cell proportions.

RESULTS

A total of 55 unique IDH-mutant glioma samples were included in the analysis. The authors identified multiple genes associated with progression and higher grade across IDH-mutant oligodendrogliomas and astrocytomas. Compared with lower-grade paired samples, grade 4 IDH-mutant astrocytomas uniquely demonstrated upregulation of VEGFA in addition to counterproductive alterations in inflammatory score reflective of a more hostile immune microenvironment.

CONCLUSIONS

Here, the authors have provided a transcriptomic analysis of a progression cohort for IDH-mutant glioma. Compared with lower-grade tumors, grade 4 astrocytomas displayed alterations that may inform the timing of antiangiogenic and immune-based therapy as these tumors progress.

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Low-grade gliomas encompass a subgroup of cancerous glial cell growths within the central nervous system and are distinguished by their slow growth and relatively low malignant potential. Despite their less aggressive nature, these tumors can still cause significant neurological symptoms through the compression of surrounding neural and vascular structures and, in some instances, undergo malignant transformation. For these reasons, timely and appropriate evaluation and management of low-grade gliomas is critical. Medical imaging stands as a cornerstone for evaluating patients with low-grade gliomas because of its noninvasive nature and ability to provide a vast amount of information about the underlying lesion. With the growing number of neuroimaging techniques and their capabilities, there is a lack of clear guidance on which techniques to utilize for the assessment of low-grade gliomas and what their respective core use cases should be. In this literature review, the authors discuss in significant depth the available evidence pertaining to the use of advanced neuroimaging techniques in the evaluation and management of low-grade gliomas. Specifically, they review the specificity, sensitivity, accuracy, and use cases of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), perfusion MR imaging (perfusion MRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), functional MRI (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), as well as other emerging imaging techniques. They conclude that most of the advanced neuroimaging techniques are reliable in differentiating low- from high-grade gliomas, whereas MRS and DTI may further support molecular subclassification of the tumor. PET has been best employed for the purpose of tumor biopsy, whereas fMRI and DTI can be particularly valuable in preoperative surgical planning, as they delineate the functionally eloquent brain regions that need to be preserved during tumor resection. MRS, PET, SPECT, and perfusion MRI are best suited to monitor tumor progression, as their respective metrics closely correlate with the underlying metabolic activity of the tumor. Together, these techniques offer a vast amount of information and serve as tools for neurologists and neurosurgeons managing patients with low-grade gliomas.

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OBJECTIVE

The 2021 WHO classification of CNS tumors has refined the definition of adult-type diffuse gliomas without 1p19q codeletion. Nevertheless, the aggressiveness of gliomas is based exclusively on histomolecular criteria performed on a limited sample of the tumor. The authors aimed to assess whether the spontaneous radiographic tumor growth rate is associated with tumor aggressiveness and allows preoperative identification of malignancy grade of adult-type diffuse gliomas without 1p19q codeletion.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of adult patients harboring a newly diagnosed supratentorial diffuse glioma without 1p19q codeletion, with available preoperative MRI follow-up between January 2008 and April 2022. The spontaneous radiographic tumor growth rate was quantified by tumor volume segmentation and regression of the evolution of the mean tumor diameter over time and was compared with clinical, imaging, histomolecular, and survival data.

RESULTS

Ninety-six patients were included. The spontaneous radiographic tumor growth rates (mean 17.8 ± 38.8 mm/year, range 0–243.5 mm/year) significantly varied according to IDH1/2 mutation (p < 0.001), grade of malignancy (p < 0.001), and presence of microvascular proliferation (p < 0.001). The spontaneous radiographic tumor growth rate allowed preoperative identification of high-grade cases: 100% of grade 3 and 4 IDH-mutant diffuse astrocytomas had a spontaneous radiographic tumor growth rate ≥ 8.0 mm/year, and 100% of IDH–wild-type glioblastomas had a spontaneous radiographic tumor growth rate ≥ 42.0 mm/year. A spontaneous radiographic growth rate ≥ 8.0 mm/year was an independent predictor of shorter progression-free (p = 0.014) and overall (p = 0.007) survival. A mitotic count threshold ≥ 4 mitoses was the optimal threshold for identifying aggressive IDH-mutant astrocytomas based on spontaneous radiographic tumor growth.

CONCLUSIONS

The spontaneous radiographic tumor growth rates could be used as an additional tool to preoperatively screen tumor aggressiveness of adult-type diffuse gliomas without 1p19q codeletion.

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OBJECTIVE

Contemporary oncological paradigms for adjuvant treatment of low- and intermediate-grade gliomas are often guided by a limited array of parameters, overlooking the dynamic nature of the disease. The authors’ aim was to develop a comprehensive multivariate glioma growth model based on multicentric data, to facilitate more individualized therapeutic strategies.

METHODS

Random slope models with subject-specific random intercepts were fitted to a retrospective cohort of grade II and III gliomas from the database at Kepler University Hospital (n = 191) to predict future mean tumor diameters. Deep learning–based radiomics was used together with a comprehensive clinical dataset and evaluated on an external prospectively collected validation cohort from University Hospital Zurich (n = 9). Prediction quality was assessed via mean squared prediction error.

RESULTS

A mean squared prediction error of 0.58 cm for the external validation cohort was achieved, indicating very good prognostic value. The mean ± SD time to adjuvant therapy was 28.7 ± 43.3 months and 16.1 ± 14.6 months for the training and validation cohort, respectively, with a mean of 6.2 ± 5 and 3.6 ± 0.7, respectively, for number of observations. The observed mean tumor diameter per year was 0.38 cm (95% CI 0.25–0.51) for the training cohort, and 1.02 cm (95% CI 0.78–2.82) for the validation cohort. Glioma of the superior frontal gyrus showed a higher rate of tumor growth than insular glioma. Oligodendroglioma showed less pronounced growth, anaplastic astrocytoma—unlike anaplastic oligodendroglioma—was associated with faster tumor growth. Unlike the impact of extent of resection, isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) had negligible influence on tumor growth. Inclusion of radiomics variables significantly enhanced the prediction performance of the random slope model used.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors developed an advanced statistical model to predict tumor volumes both pre- and postoperatively, using comprehensive data prior to the initiation of adjuvant therapy. Using radiomics enhanced the precision of the prediction models. Whereas tumor extent of resection and topology emerged as influential factors in tumor growth, the IDH status did not. This study emphasizes the imperative of advanced computational methods in refining personalized low-grade glioma treatment, advocating a move beyond traditional paradigms.

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OBJECTIVE

Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for low-grade glioma (LGG)–related epilepsy. However, the goal of achieving both oncological radical resection and seizure freedom can be challenging. PET with [ C]methionine (MET) has been recently introduced in clinical practice for the management of patients with LGGs, not only to monitor the response to treatments, but also as a preoperative tool to define the metabolic tumor extent and to predict tumor grading, type, and prognosis. Still, its role in defining tumor-related epilepsy and postoperative seizure outcomes is limited. The aim of this preliminary study was to investigate the role of MET PET in defining preoperative seizure characteristics and short-term postoperative seizure control in a cohort of patients with newly diagnosed temporal lobe low-grade gliomas (tLGGs).

METHODS

Patients with newly diagnosed and histologically proven temporal lobe grade 2/3 gliomas (2021 WHO CNS tumor classification) who underwent resection at the authors’ institution between July 2011 and March 2021 were included in this retrospective study. MET PET images were acquired, fused with MRI scans, and qualitatively and semiquantitatively analyzed. Any eventual PET/MRI involvement of the temporomesial area, seizure characteristics, and 1-year seizure outcomes were reported.

RESULTS

A total of 52 patients with tLGGs met the inclusion criteria. MET PET was positive in 41 (79%) patients, with a median metabolic tumor volume of 14.56 cm3 (interquartile range [IQR] 6.5–28.2 cm3). The median maximum and mean tumor-to-background ratio (TBRmax, TBRmean) were 2.24 (IQR 1.58–2.86) and 1.53 (IQR 1.37–1.70), respectively. The metabolic tumor volume was found to be related to the presence of seizures at disease onset, but only in noncodeleted tumors (p = 0.014). Regarding patients with uncontrolled seizures at surgery, only the temporomesial area PET involvement showed a statistical correlation both in the univariate (p = 0.058) and in the multivariate analysis (p = 0.030). At 1-year follow-up, seizure control was correlated with MET PET–derived semiquantitative data. Particularly, higher TBRmax (p = 0.0192) and TBRmean (p = 0.0128) values were statistically related to uncontrolled seizures 1 year after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

This preliminary study suggests that MET PET may be used as a preoperative tool to define seizure characteristics and outcomes in patients with tLGGs. These findings need to be further validated in larger series with longer epileptological follow-ups.

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OBJECTIVE

Traditionally, resection of nondominant hemisphere brain tumors was performed under general anesthesia. An improved understanding of right-lateralized neural networks has led to a paradigm shift in recent decades, where the right or nondominant hemisphere is no longer perceived as "functionally silent." There is an increasing interest in awake brain mapping for nondominant hemisphere resections. The objective of this study was to perform a comprehensive review of the existing brain mapping paradigms for patients with nondominant hemisphere gliomas undergoing awake craniotomies.

METHODS

In accordance with PRISMA guidelines, systematic searches of the Medline, Embase, and American Psychological Association PsycInfo databases were undertaken from database inception to July 1, 2023. Studies providing a description of the intraoperative mapping paradigm used to assess cognition during an awake craniotomy for resection of a nondominant hemisphere glioma were included.

RESULTS

The search yielded 1084 potentially eligible articles. Thirty-nine unique studies reporting on 788 patients were included in the systematic review. The most frequently tested cognitive domains in patients with nondominant hemisphere tumors were spatial attention/neglect (17/39 studies, 43.6%), speech-motor/language (17/39 studies, 43.6%), and social cognition (9/39 studies, 23.1%). Within the frontal lobe, the highest number of positive mapping sites was identified for speech-motor/language, spatial attention/neglect, dual tasking assessing motor and language function, working memory, and social cognition. Within the parietal lobe, eloquence was most frequently found upon testing spatial attention/neglect, speech-motor/language, and calculation. Within the temporal lobe, the assessment of spatial attention/neglect yielded the highest number of positive mapping sites.

CONCLUSIONS

Cognitive testing in the nondominant hemisphere is predominantly focused on evaluating two domains: spatial attention/neglect and the motor aspects of speech/language. Multidisciplinary teams involved in awake brain mapping should consider testing an extended range of functions to minimize the risk of postoperative deficits and provide valuable information about anatomo-functional organization of cognitive networks.

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The authors describe the awake surgical mapping of music skills for patients who require resection in brain areas that may support musical abilities. A 65-year-old man was diagnosed with an anterolateral right temporal nonenhancing lesion, likely a diffusely infiltrating glioma, after presenting with several episodes of altered taste and smell and one episode of loss of consciousness. The patient specializes in music and music technology and has composed scores for films. An awake surgery was planned in a semiseated position. Prerecorded melodies were designed preoperatively as a surrogate for a composition skill task. These consisted of 10- to 15-second musical clips played during bipolar electrical stimulation of the overlying cortex and were divided into three segments: listen, play, and accuracy check. During the "listen" phase, the patient listened to a musical prompt. During the "play" phase, he played a musical response on a keyboard. Stimulation at multiple temporal neocortical sites was negative for any alteration in task performance. The patient did well postoperatively with excellent clinical and radiographic results and returned to composing music without functional compromise. Musical composition tasks can be performed safely intraoperatively for patients with musical expertise. Whether stimulating more posterior nondominant temporal neocortex or other cortical or white matter locations can disrupt this task remains undetermined.

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OBJECTIVE

In surgery for lower-grade glioma (LGG) in professional musicians, for whom preserving music ability is essential, a critical question has emerged, namely, is it mandatory to include music performance during awake mapping, as proposed in several reports? In fact, music ability is subserved by a mosaic of interactive cognitive and emotional processes that rest on several networks. Therefore, from a meta-network perspective, the authors investigated whether an integrated multimodal monitoring of these cognitive and emotional functions during stimulation mapping could be efficient in maintaining musical skill. Indeed, it could be difficult for a patient to play a musical instrument in the surgical setting in addition to performing other tasks, such as movement and language.

METHODS

An awake mapping–guided resection for LGG without intraoperative music performance was performed in 3 professional musicians. Intraoperative tests were tailored to each patient depending on the critical corticosubcortical circuits surrounding the tumor, including not only sensorimotor or language skills but also higher-order functions with a constant multitasking during the resection.

RESULTS

Although music skills were not mapped during surgery, all patients resumed their professional activities, preserving the ability to play music and to perform concerts, to teach and to compose music, or to start learning a new instrument.

CONCLUSIONS

A connectome-based resection without intraoperative music performance seems effective in achieving maximal glioma removal while preserving crucial networks subserving musical skills, creativity, and music learning. Neurosurgery should evolve toward a meta-networking approach to better understand higher-order functions mediating complex behavior, such as being a professional musician.

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