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  • Author or Editor: Frederick F. Lang x
  • Journal of Neurosurgery x
  • By Author: Miller, Douglas C. x
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Douglas C. Miller, Frederick F. Lang and Fred J. Epstein

Histopathological features that suggest the diagnosis of ganglioglioma require, in most cases, confirmation by special stains to distinguish these tumors from other gliomas. For this purpose, immunostaining for synaptophysin, which has previously been shown to selectively label the cell surface of neoplastic ganglion cells, was used to retrospectively examine glioma tumor specimens. Sixty-three cases of ganglioglioma were identified. The files of the Division of Neuropathology of New York University Medical Center contained 45 tumors that had been diagnosed as ganglioglioma, of which 42 were verified by synaptophysin; three cases were reclassified, two as astrocytomas and one as a gangliocytic paraganglioma. Thus, a tumor identified as ganglioglioma based on other criteria was likely to be a ganglioglioma. The other 21 cases of gangliogliomas were originally diagnosed as astrocytoma or mixed glioma, but were shown by synaptophysin staining to be gangliogliomas. In some cases the ultimate diagnosis was obtained after radical surgery provided relatively abundant amounts of tissue, thereby limiting sampling errors, in contrast to the biopsies from which the original diagnoses were made.

Histopathological review of these cases demonstrated that four features represent important clues to the correct diagnosis: 1) clusters of large cells potentially representing neurons (without such cells the tumor cannot be classified as a ganglioglioma); 2) no perineuronal clustering of the glial cells around the alleged neoplastic neurons; 3) fibrosis (desmoplasia); and 4) calcification. Binucleate neurons, previously suggested to be common in gangliogliomas, were not frequently found in this series, and lymphocytic infiltrates, while common, are so often found in other tumors that they gave no specific hint that any single neoplasm was a ganglioglioma. The glial elements were astrocytic in all cases, except that one tumor also had oligodendroglial and ependymal patterns. Four tumors also had small mature neurons, as seen in neurocytomas. Cells from one tumor were successfully grown in short-term tissue culture; the culture contained large dividing neurons with synaptophysin immunoreactivity as well as smaller dividing cells, demonstrating that the neuronal cells are a proliferating element in gangliogliomas.

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Frederick F. Lang, Douglas C. Miller, Maxim Koslow and Elizabeth W. Newcomb

✓ To characterize some of the genetic events underlying the development of glioblastoma multiforme, the authors analyzed 65 astrocytic tumors (seven pilocytic astrocytomas, eight astrocytomas, 16 anaplastic astrocytomas, and 34 glioblastomas multiforme) for loss of heterozygosity for chromosome 17p, loss of heterozygosity for chromosomes 10p and 10q, amplification of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene, and amplification of the oncogenes N-myc, c-myc, and N-ras using Southern blot analysis. Alterations of the p53 gene (positive immunostaining for p53 protein in tumors with or without p53 gene mutations) in these 65 tumors were analyzed previously. None of the 65 tumors showed amplification or rearrangement of N-myc, c-myc, or N-ras oncogenes.

The molecular analysis presented here demonstrates distinct variants of astrocytic tumors, with at least three genetic pathways leading to glioblastoma multiforme. One pathway was characterized by 43 astrocytomas with alterations in p53. Glioblastomas with p53 alterations may represent tumors that progress from lower-grade astrocytomas. This variant was more likely to show loss of chromosome 17p than tumors without p53 alterations (p < 0.04). Seventy-five percent of tumors with loss of one 17p allele demonstrated mutations in the p53 gene. Loss of chromosome 10 was associated with progression from anaplastic astrocytoma (13%) to glioblastoma (38%) (p < 0.04). Amplification of the EGFR gene was a rare (7%) but late event in tumor progression (p < 0.03). A second pathway was characterized by six astrocytomas without p53 alterations and may represent clinically de novo high-grade tumors. These tumors were more likely to show amplification of the EGFR gene (83%) than tumors with p53 alterations. Sixty percent of tumors with EGFR amplification also showed loss of chromosome 10; loss of chromosome 17p was infrequent in this variant. One or more alternative pathways were characterized by 16 astrocytomas without p53 alterations and with none of the genetic changes analyzed in this study. Glioblastomas are a heterogeneous group of tumors that may arise via multiple genetic pathways.

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Central nervous system gangliogliomas

Part 2: Clinical outcome

Frederick F. Lang, Fred J. Epstein, Joseph Ransohoff, Jeffrey C. Allen, Jeffrey Wisoff, I. Richmond Abbott and Douglas C. Miller

The records of 58 patients with gangliogliomas surgically treated between January 1, 1980, and June 30, 1990, were retrospectively reviewed in order to determine long-term survival, event-free survival, and functional outcome resulting after radical resection and to assess the impact of histological grading on outcome. Tumors were located in the cerebral hemisphere in 19 cases, the spinal cord in 30, and the brain stem in nine. Forty-four patients had gross total resection and 14 had radical subtotal resection. Only six patients underwent postoperative irradiation or chemotherapy and, therefore, the outcome was generally related to surgery alone. Of the 58 gangliogliomas, 40 were classified as histological grade I, 16 were grade II, and two were grade III. The median follow-up period was 56 months. There were no operative deaths, and the operative morbidity rate was 5%, 37%, and 33% for cerebral hemisphere, spinal cord, and brain-stem gangliogliomas, respectively. The 5-year actuarial survival rates for cerebral hemisphere, spinal cord, and brain-stem gangliogliomas were 93%, 84%, and 73%, respectively (p = 0.7). The event-free survival rate at 5 years was 95% for cerebral hemisphere gangliogliomas and 36% for spinal cord gangliogliomas (p < 0.05); for brain-stem gangliogliomas the event-free survival rate at 3 years was 53% (p < 0.05). Neurological function at recent follow-up evaluation was stable or improved in 81% of patients. Multivariate analysis (Cox linear regression) revealed tumor location to be the only variable predictive of outcome, with spinal cord and brain-stem gangliogliomas having a 3.5- and 5-fold increased relative risk of recurrence, respectively, compared to cerebral hemisphere gangliogliomas. Histological grade was not predictive of outcome, although in each location there was a trend for higher-grade tumors to have a shorter time to recurrence. It is concluded that radical surgery leads to long-term survival of patients with gangliogliomas, regardless of location, and adjuvant therapy can probably be reserved for special cases.