Placental alkaline phosphatase (PLAP) in CSF can provide a very high diagnostic value in cases of intracranial germ cell tumors (GCTs), especially in pure germinomas, to the level of not requiring histological confirmation. Unlike other tumor markers, reliable data analysis with respect to the diagnostic value of PLAP serum or CSF levels has not been available until now. This is the first systematic and comprehensive study examining the diagnostic value of CSF PLAP in patients with intracranial GCTs.
From 2004 to 2014, 74 patients (average age 19.6 ± 10.6 years) with intracranial GCTs were evaluated using PLAP from their CSF and histological samples. Chemiluminescent enzyme immunoassay was utilized to measure CSF PLAP in the following tumor sites: pineal (n = 32), pituitary stalk, suprasellar (n = 16), basal ganglia (n = 15), intraventricular (n = 9), and cerebellar (n = 5) regions. In addition to classifying GCT cases, all patients underwent tumor biopsy for correlation with tumor marker data.
PLAP in combination with other tumor markers resulted in extremely high sensitivity and specificity of the diagnostic value of intracranial GCTs. Intracranial GCT cases were classified into 1) germinomas, both “pure” and syncytiotrophoblastic giant cell types (n = 38); 2) nongerminomatous GCTs, choriocarcinomas (n = 9) and teratomas (n = 4); and 3) nongerminomas, other kinds of tumors (n = 23). Consequently, all patients received chemoradiation therapy based on elevation of PLAP and the histopathological results. It was also speculated that the level of PLAP could show the amount of intracranial germ cell components of a GCT. PLAP was 100% upregulated in all intracranial germinoma cases. The absence of CSF PLAP proved that the tumor was not a germinoma.
The current study is the first systematic and comprehensive examination of the diagnostic value of the tumor marker PLAP in pediatric patients with intracranial GCT. Using the level of PLAP in CSF, we were able to detect the instances of intracranial germinoma with very high reliability, equivalent to a pathological diagnosis.