✓ Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma is a recently characterized neoplasm with a favorable prognosis despite aggressive histological features. The authors report a case of pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma that recurred 4 years after complete gross resection. The original tumor exhibited histological features characteristic of this neoplasm, but up to 4 mitoses/10 high-power fields were present focally. The recurrent tumor contained small foci of classical pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, but consisted predominantly of glioblastoma multiforme. Transitional zones contained nests of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-immunopositive cells surrounded by delicate collagenous and reticulin-rich septa. Electron microscopy of the transitional zone showed continuous basal lamina investing cells containing bundles of intermediate filaments. These were GFAP-positive by immunogold electron microscopy, confirming the astrocytic nature of pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma. This example illustrates the capacity of this tumor to evolve into glioblastoma. The indolent clinical behavior of most pleomorphic xanthoastrocytomas is evident from a literature review, which confirms the prolonged survival of many patients after onset of symptoms. Completeness of excision, subjectively assessed at surgery, did not influence the risk of recurrence or survival up to 10 years after initial resection. Postoperative radiotherapy did not improve survival, but may reduce the probability of recurrence; more studies are needed to corroborate this finding.
The data compiled herein support the designation of pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma as a distinct astrocytic neoplasm with a favorable prognosis. An increased mitotic rate has not previously been correlated with a worse outcome, and should not be used to exclude this diagnosis. However, anaplastic transformation of pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma confers a much worse prognosis, and this case suggests that increased mitotic activity may be a negative prognostic indicator since it may herald subsequent anaplastic transformation.