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Chibawanye I. Ene, Patrick J. Cimino, Howard A. Fine, and Eric C. Holland

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common type of malignant primary brain tumor in adults. It is a uniformly fatal disease (median overall survival 16 months) even with aggressive resection and an adjuvant temozolomide-based chemoradiation regimen. Age remains an independent risk factor for a poor prognosis. Several factors contribute to the dismal outcomes in the elderly population with GBM, including poor baseline health status, differences in underlying genomic alterations, and variability in the surgical and medical management of this subpopulation. The latter arises from a lack of adequate representation of elderly patients in clinical trials, resulting in limited data on the response of this subpopulation to standard treatment. Results from retrospective and some prospective studies have indicated that resection of only contrast-enhancing lesions and administration of hypofractionated radiotherapy in combination with temozolomide are effective strategies for optimizing survival while maintaining baseline quality of life in elderly GBM patients; however, survival remains dismal relative to that in a younger cohort. Here, the authors present historical context for the current strategies used for the multimodal management (surgical and medical) of elderly patients with GBM. Furthermore, they provide insights into elderly GBM patient–specific genomic signatures such as isocitrate dehydrogenase 1/2 (IDH1/2) wildtype status, telomerase reverse transcriptase promoter (TERTp) mutations, and somatic copy number alterations including CDK4/MDM2 coamplification, which are becoming better understood and could be utilized in a clinical trial design and patient stratification to guide the development of more effective adjuvant therapies specifically for elderly GBM patients.

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Karen L. Skjei, Ephraim W. Church, Brian N. Harding, Mariarita Santi, Katherine D. Holland-Bouley, Robert R. Clancy, Brenda E. Porter, Gregory G. Heuer, and Eric D. Marsh


Mutations in the sodium channel alpha 1 subunit gene (SCN1A) have been associated with a wide range of epilepsy phenotypes including Dravet syndrome. There currently exist few histopathological and surgical outcome reports in patients with this disease. In this case series, the authors describe the clinical features, surgical pathology, and outcomes in 6 patients with SCN1A mutations and refractory epilepsy who underwent focal cortical resection prior to uncovering the genetic basis of their epilepsy.


Medical records of SCN1A mutation-positive children with treatment-resistant epilepsy who had undergone resective epilepsy surgery were reviewed retrospectively. Surgical pathology specimens were reviewed.


All 6 patients identified carried diagnoses of intractable epilepsy with mixed seizure types. Age at surgery ranged from 18 months to 20 years. Seizures were refractory to surgery in every case. Surgical histopathology showed evidence of subtle cortical dysplasia in 4 of 6 patients, with more neurons in the molecular layer of the cortex and white matter.


Cortical resection is unlikely to be beneficial in these children due to the genetic defect and the unexpected neuropathological finding of mild diffuse malformations of cortical development. Together, these findings suggest a diffuse pathophysiological mechanism of the patients’ epilepsy which will not respond to focal resective surgery.

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Anne-Marie Bleau, Brian M. Howard, Lauren A. Taylor, Demirkan Gursel, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, H. Y. Lim Tung, Eric C. Holland, and John A. Boockvar


Brain tumor stem cells (TSCs) hypothetically drive the malignant phenotype of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), and evidence suggests that a better understanding of these TSCs will have profound implications for treating gliomas. When grown in vitro, putative TSCs grow as a solid sphere, making their subsequent characterization, particularly the cells within the center of the sphere, difficult. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop a new method to better understand the proteomic profile of the entire population of cells within a sphere.


Tumor specimens from patients with confirmed GBM and glioma models in mice were mechanically and enzymatically dissociated and grown in traditional stem cell medium to generate neurospheres. The neurospheres were then embedded in freezing medium, cryosectioned, and analyzed with immunofluorescence.


By sectioning neurospheres as thinly as 5 μm, the authors overcame many of the problems associated with immunolabeling whole neurospheres, such as antibody penetration into the core of the sphere and intense background fluorescence that obscures the specificity of immunoreactivity. Moreover, the small quantity of material required and the speed with which this cryosectioning and immunolabeling technique can be performed make it an attractive tool for the rapid assessment of TSC character.


This study is the first to show that cryosectioning of neurospheres derived from glioma models in mice and GBM in humans is a feasible method of better defining the stem cell profile of a glioma.