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Michael Zorniak, Paul A. Clark and John S. Kuo

OBJECT

Glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs) exhibit stem-like properties, are highly efficient at forming tumor xenografts, and are resistant to many current therapies. Current molecular identifiers of GSCs are scarce and controversial. The authors describe differential cell-surface gene expression profiling to identify GSC-specific markers.

METHODS

Independent human GSC lines were isolated and maintained in standard neural stem cell (NSC) media and were validated for self-renewal, multipotent differentiation, and tumor initiation properties. Candidate upregulated GSCspecific plasma membrane markers were identified through differential Affymetrix U133 Plus 2.0 Array gene expression profiling of GSCs, human NSCs (hNSCs), normal brain tissue, and primary/recurrent glioblastoma multiforme samples. Results were validated by using comparative quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analysis of GSCs, hNSCs, normal human astrocytes, U87 glioma cell line, and patient-matched serum-cultured glioblastoma multiforme samples.

RESULTS

A candidate GSC-specific signature of 19 upregulated known and novel plasma membrane–associated genes was identified. Preferential upregulation of these plasma membrane–linked genes was validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Cadherin-19 (CDH19) protein expression was enhanced in minimally infiltrative GSC lines.

CONCLUSIONS

Gene expression profiling of GSCs has shown CDH19 to be an exciting new target for drug development and study of GBM tumorigenesis.

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Clark C. Chen, Paul Chapman, Joshua Petit and Jay Loeffler

Object

Photon energy deposition from gamma or photon sources follows the law of exponential decay. Consequently, energy is deposited over the entire path of the radiation beam, resulting in dose distribution before and after the target is reached. In contrast, the physical properties of protons are such that energy deposition occurs with no exit dose beyond the target volume. Therefore, relative to photons, proton beams represent a superior platform for the administration of radiosurgery.

Methods

In this review, the authors will discuss the fundamental principles underlying photon- and proton-based stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). The clinical efficacy of proton-based SRS in the treatment of arteriovenous malformations, vestibular schwannomas, and pituitary adenomas is reviewed.

Results

Direct comparisons of clinical results attained using photon- and proton-based SRS are confounded by a bias toward reserving proton beams for the treatment of larger and more complex lesions. Despite this bias, the clinical outcomes for proton-based SRS have been excellent and have been at least comparable to those for photon-based treatments.

Conclusions

The physical properties of proton radiation offer superior conformality in dose distribution relative to photon irradiation. This advantage becomes more apparent as the lesion size increases and will probably be magnified with the development of intensity-modulated proton techniques.

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Chad W. Washington, L. Ian Taylor, Robert J. Dambrino, Paul R. Clark and Gregory J. Zipfel

OBJECTIVE

The Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has defined Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) for assessments in quality of inpatient care. The hypothesis of this study is that, in the treatment of unruptured cerebral aneurysms (UCAs), PSI events are less likely to occur in hospitals meeting the volume thresholds defined by The Joint Commission for Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC) certification.

METHODS

Using the 2002–2011 National (Nationwide) Inpatient Sample, patients treated electively for a nonruptured cerebral aneurysm were selected. Patients were evaluated for PSI events (e.g., pressure ulcers, retained surgical item, perioperative hemorrhage, pulmonary embolism, sepsis) defined by AHRQ-specified ICD-9 codes. Hospitals were categorized by treatment volume into CSC or non-CSC volume status based on The Joint Commission’s annual volume thresholds of at least 20 patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage and performance of 15 or more endovascular coiling or surgical clipping procedures for aneurysms.

RESULTS

A total of 65,824 patients underwent treatment for an unruptured cerebral aneurysm. There were 4818 patients (7.3%) in whom at least 1 PSI event occurred. The overall inpatient mortality rate was 0.7%. In patients with a PSI event, this rate increased to 7% compared with 0.2% in patients without a PSI event (p < 0.0001). The overall rate of poor outcome was 3.8%. In patients with a PSI event, this rate increased to 23.3% compared with 2.3% in patients without a PSI event (p < 0.0001). There were significant differences in PSI event, poor outcome, and mortality rates between non-CSC and CSC volume-status hospitals (PSI event, 8.4% vs 7.2%; poor outcome, 5.1% vs 3.6%; and mortality, 1% vs 0.6%). In multivariate analysis, all patients treated at a non-CSC volume-status hospital were more likely to suffer a PSI event with an OR of 1.2 (1.1–1.3). In patients who underwent surgery, this relationship was more substantial, with an OR of 1.4 (1.2–1.6). The relationship was not significant in the endovascularly treated patients.

CONCLUSIONS

In the treatment of unruptured cerebral aneurysms, PSI events occur relatively frequently and are associated with significant increases in morbidity and mortality. In patients treated at institutions achieving the volume thresholds for CSC certification, the likelihood of having a PSI event, and therefore the likelihood of poor outcome and mortality, was significantly decreased. These improvements are being driven by the improved outcomes in surgical patients, whereas outcomes and mortality in patients treated endovascularly were not sensitive to the CSC volume status of the hospital and showed no significant relationship with treatment volumes.

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Paul R. Cooper, Kenneth R. Maravilla, Frederick H. Sklar, Sarah F. Moody and W. Kemp Clark

✓ Thirty-three patients with a spectrum of cervical spine fractures or subluxations were treated with immobilization by a halo apparatus. All spines were assumed to be unstable because of the nature of the fracture or because of a subluxation noted on spine films. Treatment consisted of immobilization and fracture reduction followed by application of a halo plaster cast or molded halo plastic vest. Patient acceptance was high. Complications were few and minor. No patient experienced neurological deterioration during treatment. Reduction was well maintained during an average halo immobilization period of over 3 months. Use of the halo resulted in healing of bone and ligament and restoration of stability in 85% of the patients. Halo immobilization was efficacious in the treatment of odontoid and hangman's fractures as well as complex fractures involving multiple areas of a single vertebra. It was also used successfully as an adjunct to posterior cervical fusion. Although several patients with subluxations or angulation without bone injury were treated successfully, two of the four therapy failures occurred in this group of patients, and the halo must be used with caution in this clinical setting. Contraindications to the use of the halo include complete cervical spinal cord injury with anesthetic skin, tomographic and/or myelographic evidence of disc or bone within the spinal canal, and unsatisfactorily reduced subluxations. The halo has provided more effective and reliable immobilization than other orthoses. It is an acceptable alternative to cervical fusion for the achievement of stability in a wide variety of cervical spine fractures and dislocations avoiding both the short-term and perhaps long-term complications of spinal fusion.

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Dexamethasone and severe head injury

A prospective double-blind study

Paul R. Cooper, Sarah Moody, W. Kemp Clark, Joel Kirkpatrick, Kenneth Maravilla, A. Lawrence Gould and Wanzer Drane

✓ A prospective double-blind study of the effects of dexamethasone administration on the outcome of patients with severe head injuries was performed. Patients were stratified for severity of neurological injury and were treated with placebo, low-dose dexamethasone (16 mg/day), or high-dose dexamethasone (96 mg/day) for a period of 6 days. Outcome was evaluated at 6 months following injury. Of the 76 patients available for analysis, a good outcome was achieved in 37% of placebo-treated patients, 44% of low-dose-treated patients, and 29% of high-dose-treated patients. These differences are not statistically significant. Similarly dexamethasone administration had no statistically significant effect on intracranial pressure patterns or serial neurological examinations during hospitalization. Gastrointestinal bleeding occurred in only one patient. Good outcome was associated with age under 10 years, lighter depth of coma on admission, and the preservation of brain-stem reflexes upon admission. A recalculation of data in previous clinical series purporting to show an improvement in outcome as a result of corticosteroid therapy shows no significant difference in outcome when steroid- and placebo-treated patients are compared. In our series, 90% of all deaths were caused by recurrent intracranial hematomas, medical complications, or diffuse brain injuries with parenchymal hemorrhage and tissue disruption — causes of death which cannot be affected by corticosteroid therapy. The study suggests that dexamethasone in either high or low dosages has no significant effect on morbidity and mortality following severe head injury.

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Paul A. Clark, Saswati Bhattacharya, Ardem Elmayan, Soesiawati R. Darjatmoko, Bradley A. Thuro, Michael B. Yan, Paul R. van Ginkel, Arthur S. Polans and John S. Kuo

OBJECTIVE

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive brain cancer with median survival of less than 2 years with current treatment. Glioblastomas exhibit extensive intratumoral and interpatient heterogeneity, suggesting that successful therapies should produce broad anticancer activities. Therefore, the natural nontoxic pleiotropic agent, resveratrol, was studied for antitumorigenic effects against GBM.

METHODS

Resveratrol's effects on cell proliferation, sphere-forming ability, and invasion were tested using multiple patient-derived GBM stem-like cell (GSC) lines and established U87 glioma cells, and changes in oncogenic AKT and tumor suppressive p53 were analyzed. Resveratrol was also tested in vivo against U87 glioma flank xenografts in mice by using multiple delivery methods, including direct tumor injection. Finally, resveratrol was delivered directly to brain tissue to determine toxicity and achievable drug concentrations in the brain parenchyma.

RESULTS

Resveratrol significantly inhibited proliferation in U87 glioma and multiple patient-derived GSC lines, demonstrating similar inhibitory concentrations across these phenotypically heterogeneous lines. Resveratrol also inhibited the sphere-forming ability suggesting anti–stem cell effects. Additionally, resveratrol blocked U87 glioma and GSC invasion in an in vitro Matrigel Transwell assay at doses similar to those mediating antiproliferative effects. In U87 glioma cells and GSCs, resveratrol reduced AKT phosphorylation and induced p53 expression and activation that led to transcription of downstream p53 target genes. Resveratrol administration via oral gavage or ad libitum in the water supply significantly suppressed GBM xenograft growth; intratumoral or peritumoral resveratrol injection further suppressed growth and approximated tumor regression. Intracranial resveratrol injection resulted in 100-fold higher local drug concentration compared with intravenous delivery, and with no apparent toxicity.

CONCLUSIONS

Resveratrol potently inhibited GBM and GSC growth and infiltration, acting partially via AKT deactivation and p53 induction, and suppressed glioblastoma growth in vivo. The ability of resveratrol to modulate AKT and p53, as well as reportedly many other antitumorigenic pathways, is attractive for therapy against a genetically heterogeneous tumor such as GBM. Although resveratrol exhibits low bioavailability when administered orally or intravenously, novel delivery methods such as direct injection (i.e., convection-enhanced delivery) could potentially be used to achieve and maintain therapeutic doses in the brain. Resveratrol's nontoxic nature and broad anti-GBM effects make it a compelling candidate to supplement current GBM therapies.

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Kelli B. Pointer, Paul A. Clark, Alexandra B. Schroeder, M. Shahriar Salamat, Kevin W. Eliceiri and John S. Kuo

OBJECTIVE

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most malignant primary brain tumor. Collagen is present in low amounts in normal brain, but in GBMs, collagen gene expression is reportedly upregulated. However, to the authors' knowledge, direct visualization of collagen architecture has not been reported. The authors sought to perform the first direct visualization of GBM collagen architecture, identify clinically relevant collagen signatures, and link them to differential patient survival.

METHODS

Second-harmonic generation microscopy was used to detect collagen in a GBM patient tissue microarray. Focal and invasive GBM mouse xenografts were stained with Picrosirius red. Quantitation of collagen fibers was performed using custom software. Multivariate survival analysis was done to determine if collagen is a survival marker for patients.

RESULTS

In focal xenografts, collagen was observed at tumor brain boundaries. For invasive xenografts, collagen was intercalated with tumor cells. Quantitative analysis showed significant differences in collagen fibers for focal and invasive xenografts. The authors also found that GBM patients with more organized collagen had a longer median survival than those with less organized collagen.

CONCLUSIONS

Collagen architecture can be directly visualized and is different in focal versus invasive GBMs. The authors also demonstrate that collagen signature is associated with patient survival. These findings suggest that there are collagen differences in focal versus invasive GBMs and that collagen is a survival marker for GBM.

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Aaron J. Clark, Roxanna M. Garcia, Malla K. Keefe, Tyler R. Koski, Michael K. Rosner, Justin S. Smith, Joseph S. Cheng, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Paul C. McCormick and Christopher P. Ames

Object

Adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery is increasing in the spinal neurosurgeon's practice.

Methods

A survey of neurosurgeon AANS membership assessed the deformity knowledge base and impact of current training, education, and practice experience to identify opportunities for improved education. Eleven questions developed and agreed upon by experienced spinal deformity surgeons tested ASD knowledge and were subgrouped into 5 categories: 1) radiology/spinopelvic alignment, 2) health-related quality of life, 3) surgical indications, 4) operative technique, and 5) clinical evaluation. Chi-square analysis was used to compare differences based on participant demographic characteristics (years of practice, spinal surgery fellowship training, percentage of practice comprising spinal surgery).

Results

Responses were received from 1456 neurosurgeons. Of these respondents, 57% had practiced less than 10 years, 20% had completed a spine fellowship, and 32% devoted more than 75% of their practice to spine. The overall correct answer percentage was 42%. Radiology/spinal pelvic alignment questions had the lowest percentage of correct answers (38%), while clinical evaluation and surgical indications questions had the highest percentage (44%). More than 10 years in practice, completion of a spine fellowship, and more than 75% spine practice were associated with greater overall percentage correct (p < 0.001). More than 10 years in practice was significantly associated with increased percentage of correct answers in 4 of 5 categories. Spine fellowship and more than 75% spine practice were significantly associated with increased percentage correct in all categories. Interestingly, the highest error was seen in risk for postoperative coronal imbalance, with a very low rate of correct responses (15%) and not significantly improved with fellowship (18%, p = 0.08).

Conclusions

The results of this survey suggest that ASD knowledge could be improved in neurosurgery. Knowledge may be augmented with neurosurgical experience, spinal surgery fellowships, and spinal specialization. Neurosurgical education should particularly focus on radiology/spinal pelvic alignment, especially pelvic obliquity and coronal imbalance and operative techniques for ASD.