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Michael Hugelshofer, Nicola Acciarri, Ulrich Sure, Dimitrios Georgiadis, Ralf W. Baumgartner, Helmut Bertalanffy and Adrian M. Siegel

Object

Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are common vascular lesions in the brain, affecting approximately 0.5% of the population and representing 10%–20% of all cerebral vascular lesions. One-quarter of all CCMs affect pediatric patients, and CCMs are reported as one of the main causes of brain hemorrhage in this age group. Symptoms include epileptic seizures, headache, and focal neurological deficits. Patients with symptomatic CCMs can be treated either conservatively or with resection if lesions cause medically refractory epilepsy or other persistent symptoms.

Methods

The authors retrospectively analyzed 79 pediatric patients (41 boys and 38 girls) from 3 different centers, who were surgically treated for their symptomatic CCMs between 1974 and 2004. The mean age of the children at first manifestation was 9.7 years, and the mean age at operation was 11.3 years. The main goal was to compare the clinical outcomes with respect to the location of the lesion of children who preoperatively suffered from epileptic seizures.

Results

Of these patients, 77.3% were seizure free (Engel Class I) after the resection of the CCM. Significant differences in the outcome between children who harbored CCMs at different locations were not found.

Conclusions

Resection seems to be the favorable treatment of symptomatic CCMs not only in adults but also in children.

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Ulrich Sure, Sandra Freman, Oliver Bozinov, Ludwig Benes, Adrian M. Siegel and Helmut Bertalanffy

Object. Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) have previously been considered as congenital and biologically static malformations. On the other hand, the potential for growth and de novo generation of CCMs have also been reported. It is therefore important to study the proliferative and neoangiogenetic capacity of these lesions.

Methods. The authors studied the surgical specimens of 56 CCMs (23 deep and 33 superficial) obtained from adult patients. The proliferative activity of the endothelium and the neoangiogenetic capacity of these lesions were considered through immunohistochemical anaylsis of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), MIB-1, Flk-1, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, and endoglin antibodies.

Positive immunostaining of endothelial cells occurred in 86% of patients for PCNA and in 38% of the cases for MIB-1. The expression of Flk-1 was observed in the endothelium of 71% of the cases, for VEGF in 41%, for HIF-1α in 48.1%, and for endoglin in 63.6% of the cases. The correlation of immunohistochemical and clinical data indicated that VEGF was expressed in significantly less deep-seated lesions when compared with superficial CCMs. Neither the expression of the proliferative markers nor the expression of the angiogenetic antibodies correlated with patient age at surgery, sex, or the number of recent prior hemorrhagic episodes in the patients.

Conclusions. The CCMs from adult patients are active lesions exhibiting endothelial proliferation and neoangiogenesis. According to the data in this study, neoangiogenesis is more prominent in superficial CCMs than in deep-seated CCMs and is not associated with recent prior hemorrhages.

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Kevin N. Strommer, Sebastian Brandner, Ali C. Sarioglu, Ulrich Sure and Yasuhiro Yonekawa

✓ This case report contains a description of a 61-year-old patient who presented with a progressive truncal ataxia 22 years after complete removal of a small paraganglioma of the cauda equina. Magnetic resonance imaging of the neuraxis revealed a large cystic lesion in the cerebellar midline, three small cortical-to-subcortical nodular tumors in the posterior fossa, and local recurrences of the paraganglioma of the cauda equina. Pathological examination showed the cerebellar midline lesion to be a paraganglioma, most likely a metastasis from the cauda equina localization.

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Zhiyuan Yu, Jun Zheng, Lu Ma, Chao You and Hao Li

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Yuan Zhu, Christian Peters, Monika Hallier-Neelsen, Dorothea Miller, Axel Pagenstecher, Helmut Bertalanffy and Ulrich Sure

Object

Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are the most common vascular malformation of the central nervous system and involve dysregulated angiogenesis. However, the underlying mechanism of this disease is poorly understood. Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) plays a crucial role in regulating angiogenesis. The authors attempted to determine whether PTEN is involved in the pathological angiogenesis of CCM.

Methods

The authors used Western blot analysis and immunohistochemical methods to detect the expression of PTEN, PCNA, and P-Akt in the surgical specimens of CCMs and controls. The function of PTEN in cell proliferation was studied after PTEN silencing in endothelial cultures by using the short interfering RNA technique.

Results

Western blot analysis showed significant reduction of PTEN protein expression in CCMs compared with control brain tissue (p < 0.01). Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed PTEN insufficiency in 33% of vascular endothelia of CCMs, which was significantly higher than that of controls (2%, p < 0.01). Furthermore, PTEN insufficiency occurred more frequently in multiple CCMs (44%) and in small lesions (39%) than in single CCMs (28%, p < 0.05) and large lesions (30%, p < 0.05), respectively, suggesting a potential role of PTEN in the progression of the lesions. Of note, a negative correlation was observed between the expression of PTEN and PCNA in CCM endothelial cells. However, Akt was not constitutively activated in CCMs. Using cultured endothelial cells, the authors demonstrated that PTEN silencing by short interfering RNA increased Akt activation, PCNA expression, and cell proliferation (p < 0.001). Surprisingly, the PTEN silencing–mediated increase in endothelial proliferation was not reversed by the PI3K inhibitor wortmannin.

Conclusions

In this study, the authors report for the first time a significant PTEN insufficiency in CCM vessels associated with endothelial proliferation. The in vitro study provides direct evidence for a pivotal role of PTEN in regulating endothelial proliferation, most likely through a PI3K-independent pathway. The authors suggest that PTEN insufficiency is potentially involved in CCM by stimulating angiogenesis.

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Yuan Zhu, Qun Wu, Jin-Fang Xu, Dorothea Miller, I. Erol Sandalcioglu, Jian-Min Zhang and Ulrich Sure

Object

Loss-of-function mutations in CCM genes are frequently detected in familial cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs). However, the current functional studies of the CCM genes in vitro have been performed mostly in commercially purchased normal cell lines and the results appeared discrepant. The fact that the cerebral vascular defects are rarely observed in CCM gene-deficient animals suggests the requirement of additional pathological background for the formation of vascular lesions. Consistent with these data, the authors assumed that silencing CCM genes in the endothelium derived from CCMs (CCM-ECs) serves as a unique and valuable model for investigating the function of the CCM genes in the pathogenesis of CCMs. To this end, the authors investigated the role and signaling of CCM2 and CCM3 in the key steps of angiogenesis using CCM-ECs.

Methods

Endothelial cells (ECs) derived from CCMs were isolated, purified, and cultured from the fresh operative specimens of sporadic CCMs (31 cases). The CCM2 and CCM3 genes were silenced by the specific short interfering RNAs in CCM-ECs and in control cultures (human brain microvascular ECs and human umbilical vein ECs). The efficiency of gene silencing was proven by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Cell proliferation and apoptosis, migration, tube formation, and the expression of phosphor-p38, phosphor-Akt, and phosphor-extracellular signal-regulated kinase–1 and 2 (ERK1/2) were analyzed under CCM2 and CCM3 silenced conditions in CCM-ECs.

Results

The CCM3 silencing significantly promoted proliferation and reduced apoptosis in all 3 types of endothelium, but accelerated cell migration exclusively in CCM-ECs. Interestingly, CCM2 siRNA influenced neither cell proliferation nor migration. Silencing of CCM3, and to a lesser extent CCM2, stimulated the growth and extension of sprouts selectively in CCM-ECs. Loss of CCM2 or CCM3 did not significantly influence the formation of the tubelike structure. However, the maintenance of tube stability was largely impaired by CCM2, but not CCM3, silencing. Western blot analysis revealed that CCM2 and CCM3 silencing commonly activated p38, Akt, and ERK1/2 in CCM-ECs.

Conclusions

The unique response of CCM-ECs to CCM2 or CCM3 siRNA indicates that silencing CCM genes in CCM-ECs is valuable for further studies on the pathogenesis of CCMs. Using this model system, the authors demonstrate a distinct role of CCM2 and CCM3 in modulating the different processes of angiogenesis. The stimulation of endothelial proliferation, migration, and massively growing and branching angiogenic sprouts after CCM3 silencing may potentially contribute to the formation of enriched capillary-like immature vessels in CCM lesions. The severe impairment of the tube integrity by CCM2, but not CCM3, silencing is associated with the different intracranial hemorrhage rate observed from CCM2 and CCM3 mutation carriers. The activation of p38, ERK1/2, and Akt signal proteins in CCM2- or CCM3-silenced CCM-ECs suggests a possible involvement of these common pathways in the pathogenesis of CCMs. However, the specific signaling mediating the distinct function of CCM genes in the pathogenesis of CCMs needs to be further elucidated.

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Ramazan Jabbarli, Daniela Pierscianek, Karsten Wrede, Philipp Dammann, Marc Schlamann, Michael Forsting, Oliver Müller and Ulrich Sure

OBJECTIVE

The complete clipping of a cerebral aneurysm usually warrants its sustained occlusion, while clip remnants may have far-reaching consequences. The aim of this study is to identify the risk factors for clip remnants requiring retreatment and/or exhibiting growth.

METHODS

All consecutive patients with primary aneurysm clipping performed at University Hospital of Essen between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2013, were eligible for this study. Aneurysm occlusion was judged on obligatory postoperative digital subtraction angiography and the need for repeated vascular control. The identified clip remnants were correlated with various demographic and clinical characteristics of the patients, aneurysm features, and surgery-related aspects.

RESULTS

Of 616 primarily clipped aneurysms, postoperative angiography revealed 112 aneurysms (18%) with clip remnants requiring further control (n = 91) or direct retreatment (n = 21). Seven remnants exhibited growth during follow-up, whereas 2 cases were associated with aneurysmal bleeding. Therefore, a total of 28 aneurysms (4.5%) were retreated as clip remnants (range 1 day to 67 months after clipping). In the multivariate analysis, the need for retreatment of clip remnant was correlated with the aneurysm's initial size (> 12 mm; OR 3.22; p = 0.035) and location (anterior cerebral artery > internal carotid artery > posterior circulation > middle cerebral artery; OR 1.85; p = 0.003). Younger age with a cutoff at 45 years (OR 33.31; p = 0.004) was the only independent predictor for remnant growth.

CONCLUSIONS

The size and location of the aneurysm are the main risk factors for clip remnants requiring retreatment. Because of the risk for growth, younger individuals (< 45 years old) with clip remnants require a long-term (> 5 years) vascular follow-up.

Clinical trial registration no: DRKS00008749 (Deutsches Register Klinischer Studien)

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Ulrich Sure, Nick Butz, Jürgen Schlegel, Adrian M. Siegel, Jörg P. Wakat, Hans D. Mennel, Siegfried Bien and Helmut Bertalanffy

Object. To date, both arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and cavernomas have been considered to be congenital malformations. A recent survey of the literature has shown the potential for de novo generation of both familial and sporadic cavernomas as well as AVMs. Therefore, it was of interest to determine the biological behavior of these lesions in detail.

Methods. The proliferative and angiogenic capacities of the endothelium of 13 cavernomas and 25 AVMs obtained in patients recently treated (1997–1998) at one institution were studied. Immunohistochemical staining for proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), MIB-1, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor Flk-1 was performed using standard staining procedures. Positive immunostaining of the nuclei of endothelial cells was observed in specimens of both AVMs and cavernomas for PCNA (80% of AVMs and 85% of cavernomas), and Flk-1 (80% of AVMs and 31% of cavernomas). Endothelial expression of VEGF in the 18 incompletely embolized AVMs was found in 72% of cases but only in 28% of the seven cases in which patients did not undergo endovascular treatment; it was found in 38% of cavernomas. Endothelial expression of MIB-1 was found in 12% of AVMs but in no cavernomas.

Conclusions. These results indicate that there is endothelial proliferation as well as neoangiogenesis in cerebral cavernomas and AVMs. The increased level of angiogenesis in only partially obliterated AVMs underscores the need for radical and complete occlusion of cerebral AVMs to avoid recurrences and further risks of morbidity.

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Philipp Dammann, Markus Barth, Yuan Zhu, Stefan Maderwald, Marc Schlamann, Mark E. Ladd and Ulrich Sure

High-resolution susceptibility weighted MR imaging at high field strength provides excellent depiction of venous structures, blood products, and iron deposits, making it a promising complementary imaging modality for cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs). Although already introduced in 1997 and being constantly improved, susceptibility weighted imaging is not yet routine in clinical neuroimaging protocols for CCMs. In this article, the authors review the recent literature dealing with clinical and scientific susceptibility weighted imaging of CCMs to summarize its prospects and drawbacks and provide their first experience with its use in ultra–high field (7-T) MR imaging.