The recent genomic and transcriptomic characterization of human craniopharyngiomas has provided important insights into the pathogenesis of these tumors and supports that these tumor types are distinct entities. Critically, the insights provided by these data offer the potential for the introduction of novel therapies and surgical treatment paradigms for these tumors, which are associated with high morbidity rates and morbid conditions. Mutations in the CTNNB1 gene are primary drivers of adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma (ACP) and lead to the accumulation of β-catenin protein in a subset of the nuclei within the neoplastic epithelium of these tumors. Dysregulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and of sonic hedgehog (SHH) signaling in ACP suggest that paracrine oncogenic mechanisms may underlie ACP growth and implicate these signaling pathways as potential targets for therapeutic intervention using directed therapies. Recent work shows that ACP cells have primary cilia, further supporting the potential importance of SHH signaling in the pathogenesis of these tumors. While further preclinical data are needed, directed therapies could defer, or replace, the need for radiation therapy and/or allow for less aggressive surgical interventions. Furthermore, the prospect for reliable control of cystic disease without the need for surgery now exists. Studies of papillary craniopharyngioma (PCP) are more clinically advanced than those for ACP. The vast majority of PCPs harbor the BRAF v600e mutation. There are now 2 reports of patients with PCP that had dramatic therapeutic responses to targeted agents. Ongoing clinical and research studies promise to not only advance our understanding of these challenging tumors but to offer new approaches for patient management.
Leslie C. Robinson, Sandro Santagata and Todd C. Hankinson
Juan Carlos Martinez-Gutierrez, Megan R. D'Andrea, Daniel P. Cahill, Sandro Santagata, Fred G. Barker II and Priscilla K. Brastianos
Craniopharyngiomas are rare intracranial neoplasms that pose clinical challenges due to their location adjacent to vital structures. The authors have previously shown high mutation rates of BRAF V600E in papillary craniopharyngioma and of CTNNB1 in adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma. These activating driver mutations are potential therapeutic targets, and the authors have recently reported a significant response to BRAF/MEK inhibition in a patient with multiply recurrent PCP. As these targetable mutations warrant prospective research, the authors will be conducting a national National Cancer Institute–sponsored multicenter clinical trial to investigate BRAF/MEK inhibition in the treatment of craniopharyngioma. In this new era of genomic discovery, the treatment paradigm of craniopharyngioma is likely to change.
Sandro Santagata, Sagun Tuli, Don E. Wiese II, Arthur Day and Umberto De Girolami
✓ Neuromas typically arise in the peripheral nervous system in response to traumatic injury at the site of partial or complete nerve transection as new axons from the proximal nerve stump sprout to reinnervate the distal segment. In rare cases neuromas have also been described as intramedullary spinal cord lesions. These lesions have been identified as incidental autopsy findings in association with prior trauma and cervical spondylosis, multiple sclerosis, spinal tumors, and syringomyelia.
The authors report the case of a 50-year-old man who had been involved in a motor vehicle accident, during which his car was struck from behind as it was stationary at an intersection, more than 5 years before presentation. A workup for syncopal and presyncopal episodes involved magnetic resonance imaging that revealed a 1.1-cm lesion at the cervicomedullary junction (CMJ). The imaging features of the lesion raised the question of an ependymoma or subependymoma. The lesion was excised, and examination of the tissue demonstrated a neuroma with haphazardly arranged interlacing bundles of axons ensheathed by Schwann cells with interfascicular regions of reactive glial cells and Rosenthal fibers, consistent with those present after traumatic injury. This case may represent the first true traumatic intramedullary neuroma of the CMJ diagnosed in a living patient and treated surgically.
Wenya Linda Bi, Malak Abedalthagafi, Peleg Horowitz, Pankaj K. Agarwalla, Yu Mei, Ayal A. Aizer, Ryan Brewster, Gavin P. Dunn, Ossama Al-Mefty, Brian M. Alexander, Sandro Santagata, Rameen Beroukhim and Ian F. Dunn
Meningiomas are the most common primary intracranial neoplasms in adults. Current histopathological grading schemes do not consistently predict their natural history. Classic cytogenetic studies have disclosed a progressive course of chromosomal aberrations, especially in high-grade meningiomas. Furthermore, the recent application of unbiased next-generation sequencing approaches has implicated several novel genes whose mutations underlie a substantial percentage of meningiomas. These insights may serve to craft a molecular taxonomy for meningiomas and highlight putative therapeutic targets in a new era of rational biology-informed precision medicine.
Matthew R. Strickland, Corey M. Gill, Naema Nayyar, Megan R. D'Andrea, Christian Thiede, Tareq A. Juratli, Gabriele Schackert, Darrell R. Borger, Sandro Santagata, Matthew P. Frosch, Daniel P. Cahill, Priscilla K. Brastianos and Fred G. Barker II
Meningiomas located in the skull base are surgically challenging. Recent genomic research has identified oncogenic SMO and AKT1 mutations in a small subset of meningiomas.
The authors performed targeted sequencing in a large cohort of patients with anterior skull base meningiomas (n = 62) to better define the frequency of SMO and AKT1 mutations in these tumors.
The authors found SMO mutations in 7 of 62 (11%) and AKT1 mutations in 12 of 62 (19%) of their cohort. Of the 7 meningiomas with SMO mutations, 6 (86%) occurred in the olfactory groove. Meningiomas with an SMO mutation presented with significantly larger tumor volume (70.6 ± 36.3 cm3) compared with AKT1-mutated (18.2 ± 26.8 cm3) and wild-type (22.7 ± 23.9 cm3) meningiomas, respectively.
Combined, these data demonstrate clinically actionable mutations in 30% of anterior skull base meningiomas and suggest an association between SMO mutation status and tumor volume. Genotyping of SMO and AKT1 is likely to be high yield in anterior skull base meningiomas with available surgical tissue.