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Isabel Gugel, Florian Grimm, Christian Teuber, Lan Kluwe, Victor-Felix Mautner, Marcos Tatagiba and Martin Ulrich Schuhmann

OBJECTIVE

The authors’ aim was to evaluate the tumor volume and growth rate of neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2)–associated vestibular schwannomas (VSs) and the clinical factors or type of mutations before and after surgery in children and adults younger than 25 years at the time of diagnosis.

METHODS

A total of 579 volumetric measurements were performed in 46 operated tumors in 28 NF2 patients, using thin-slice (< 3 mm) T1-weighted contrast-enhanced MRI. The follow-up period ranged from 21 to 167 months (mean 75 months). Growth rate was calculated using a multilinear regression model. Mutation analysis of the NF2 gene was performed in 25 patients.

RESULTS

Surgery significantly (p = 0.013) slowed the VS growth rate from 0.69 ± 1.30 cm3/yr to 0.23 ± 0.42 cm3/yr. Factors significantly associated with a higher growth rate of VSs were increasing patient age (p < 0.0005), tumor volume (p = 0.006), tumor size (p = 0.001), and constitutional truncating mutations in the NF2 gene (p = 0.018). VS growth rates tended to be higher in patients with spinal ependymomas and in right-sided tumors and lower in the presence of peripheral schwannomas; however, no statistical significance was achieved.

CONCLUSIONS

Decompression of the internal auditory canal with various degrees of tumor resection decreases the postoperative tumor growth rate in children and young adults with NF2-associated VS. Patients with potential risk factors for accelerated growth (e.g., large volume, truncating mutations) and with increasing age should be monitored more closely before and after surgery.

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Sameer Agnihotri, Isabel Gugel, Marc Remke, Antje Bornemann, Georgios Pantazis, Stephen C. Mack, David Shih, Sanjay K. Singh, Nesrin Sabha, Michael D. Taylor, Marcos Tatagiba, Gelareh Zadeh and Boris Krischek

Object

Vestibular schwannomas (VS) are common benign tumors of the vestibular nerve that cause significant morbidity. The current treatment strategies for VS include surgery or radiation, with each treatment option having associated complications and side effects. The transcriptional landscape of schwannoma remains largely unknown.

Methods

In this study the authors performed gene-expression profiling of 49 schwannomas and 7 normal control vestibular nerves to identify tumor-specific gene-expression patterns. They also interrogated whether schwannomas comprise several molecular subtypes using several transcription-based clustering strategies. The authors also performed in vitro experiments testing therapeutic inhibitors of over-activated pathways in a schwannoma cell line, namely the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway.

Results

The authors identified over 4000 differentially expressed genes between controls and schwannomas with network analysis, uncovering proliferation and anti-apoptotic pathways previously not implicated in VS. Furthermore, using several distinct clustering technologies, they could not reproducibly identify distinct VS subtypes or significant differences between sporadic and germline NF2–associated schwannomas, suggesting that they are highly similar entities. The authors identified overexpression of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling networks in their geneexpression study and evaluated this pathway for therapeutic targeting. Testing the compounds BEZ235 and PKI-587, both novel dual inhibitors of PI3K and mTOR, attenuated tumor growth in a preclinical cell line model of schwannoma (HEI-293). In vitro findings demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway with next-generation compounds led to decreased cell viability and increased cell death.

Conclusions

These findings implicate aberrant activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway as a molecular mechanism of pathogenesis in VS and suggest inhibition of this pathway as a potential treatment strategy.