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Shailendra Kapoor

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Lance S. Governale, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Zhengping Zhuang, and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ Meningioma has been included in the constellation of tumors associated with von Hippel—Lindau (VHL) disease in previously published reports. It is unclear whether these tumors are an uncommon component of VHL disease or are more readily detected in these patients because of the frequency with which they undergo central nervous system imaging as part of the routine management of VHL disease. The authors report the case of a patient with VHL disease in whom a progressively enlarging supratentorial mass developed and was diagnosed as a hemangioblastoma because of its appearance on serial magnetic resonance images. At surgery the tumor displayed the typical features of a meningioma and was given the histological diagnosis of fibrous meningioma. Single-stranded conformational polymorphism analysis of the tumor DNA revealed a loss of heterozygosity at the neurofibromatosis Type 2 gene locus, known to be associated with sporadically occurring meningiomas. Despite this finding, the VHL gene locus on the allele from the patient's unaffected parent was normal. Thus it is unlikely that the occurrence of this patient's fibrous meningioma was associated with underlying VHL disease. Given the high frequency of neuroimaging sessions in patients with VHL disease, some supratentorial lesions that have been given radiological diagnoses of hemangioblastomas may be incidental meningiomas.

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Edjah K. Nduom, Chunzhang Yang, Marsha J. Merrill, Zhengping Zhuang, and Russell R. Lonser


The astrocytic contribution to the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in metastatic and primary malignant brain tumors is not well understood. To better understand the vascular properties associated with metastatic and primary malignant brain tumors, the authors systematically analyzed the astrocytic component of the BBB in brain neoplasms.


Twelve patients who underwent resection of metastatic or primary brain neoplasms (4 metastatic lesions, 2 low-grade astrocytomas, 2 anaplastic astrocytomas, and 4 glioblastoma multiforme) were included. Clinical, MRI, operative, histopathological and immunohistochemical (glial fibrillary acidic protein [GFAP], CD31, and aquaporin 4 [AQ4]) findings were analyzed.


Intratumoral regions of MRI enhancement corresponded with breakdown of the normal astrocyte–endothelial cell relationship in the BBB in metastatic deposits and malignant gliomas. Metastases demonstrated lack of perivascular GFAP and AQ4 on CD31-positive intratumoral vessels. At the metastasis-brain interface, normalization of GFAP and AQ4 staining associated with intraparenchymal vessels was observed. Intratumoral vasculature in enhancing regions of high-grade gliomas revealed gaps in GFAP and AQ4 staining consistent with disintegration of the normal astrocyte–endothelial cell association in the BBB. Intratumoral vasculature in low-grade and nonenhancing regions of high-grade gliomas maintained the normal astrocyte–endothelial cell relationship seen in an intact BBB, with GFAP- and AQ4-positive glial processes that were uniformly associated with the CD31-positive vasculature.


Regions of MRI enhancement in metastatic and primary malignancies correspond to areas of breakdown of the physiological astrocyte–endothelial cell relationship of the BBB, including loss of normal perivascular astrocytic architecture on GFAP and AQ4 immunohistochemistry. Nonenhancing areas are associated with preservation of the normal astrocyte–endothelial cell relationship of the intact BBB.

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Shuyu Hao, Christopher S. Hong, Jie Feng, Chunzhang Yang, Prashant Chittiboina, Junting Zhang, and Zhengping Zhuang

Maffucci syndrome is a rare disease characterized by multiple enchondromas and soft-tissue hemangiomas. Additionally, neuroendocrine tumors including pituitary adenomas have been described in these patients. The underlying genetic etiology lies in somatic mosaicism of mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) or isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2). This report describes a patient with Maffucci syndrome who presented with intracranial tumors of the skull base and suprasellar region. The patient underwent resection of both intracranial tumors, revealing histopathological diagnoses of chondrosarcoma and pituitary adenoma. DNA sequencing of the tumors was performed to identify common IDH1/2 mutations. Clinical, radiological, and biochemical assessments were performed. Genotypic studies used standard Sanger sequencing in conjunction with a target-specific peptide nucleic acid to detect IDH1 mutations in tumor tissues. DNA sequencing demonstrated identical IDH1 mutations (c.394C > T) in both tumors.

To the authors’ knowledge, this report provides the first genetic evidence for the inclusion of pituitary adenomas among tumors characterizing Maffucci syndrome. In patients who are newly diagnosed with Maffucci syndrome, it is appropriate to monitor for development of pituitary pathology and neuroendocrine dysfunction.

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Robert J. Weil, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Zhengping Zhuang, Svetlana D. Pack, Nicholas Theodore, Robert K. Erickson, and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ Hemangioblastomas of the central nervous system (CNS) may occur sporadically or in association with von Hippel—Lindau (VHL) syndrome. The authors present four patients with no family history or clinical evidence of VHL syndrome in whom extensive, progressive, en plaque coating of the brainstem and spinal cord with hemangioblastomas developed 1 to 8 years after complete resection of a solitary cerebellar hemangioblastoma.

Analysis included detailed physical, biochemical, radiological, and pathological examinations in all four patients, combined with family pedigree analysis. In addition, a detailed investigation of the VHL gene was undertaken. Allelic loss, comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), single-stranded conformational polymorphism screening, CpG island methylation status, and X chromosome inactivation clonality analyses were performed. Although there was no evidence of germline alterations in the VHL gene on clinical and radiological examination or in the family history (all four patients) or analysis of peripheral blood (three patients), somatic deletion of one copy of the VHL gene occurred in these tumors. These findings indicate that the multiple, separate deposits of tumors were likely derived from a single clone. Results of CGH indicate that one or several additional genes are probably involved in the malignant behavior of the hemangioblastomas in these patients. Furthermore, the malignant biological and clinical behavior of these tumors, in which multiple sites of subarachnoid dissemination developed 1 to 8 years after initial complete resection, followed by progressive tumor growth and death of the patients, occurred despite a histological appearance typical of benign hemangioblastomas.

Malignant hemangioblastomatosis developed 1 to 8 years after resection of an isolated cerebellar hemangioblastoma. Alterations of the VHL gene may be permissive in this setting, but other genes are likely to be the source of the novel biological and clinical presentation of the disseminated hemangioblastomas in these patients. This appears to represent a novel condition in which the product of one or more mutations in several genes permits malignant tumor behavior despite retention of a benign histological picture, a circumstance previously not recognized in CNS tumors.

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Matthew J. Shepard, Alejandro Bugarini, Nancy A. Edwards, Jie Lu, Qi Zhang, Tianxia Wu, Zhengping Zhuang, and Prashant Chittiboina


Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) is a tumor predisposition syndrome characterized by CNS hemangioblastomas (HBs) and clear cell renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) due to hypoxia-inducible factor activation (pseudohypoxia). Because of the lack of effective medical therapies for VHL, HBs and RCCs account for significant morbidity and mortality, ultimately necessitating numerous neurological and renal surgeries. Propranolol is an FDA-approved pan-beta adrenergic antagonist with antitumor effects against infantile hemangiomas (IHs) and possibly VHL HBs. Here, the authors investigated the antitumor efficacy of propranolol against pseudohypoxia-driven VHL-HBs and VHL-RCCs.


Patient-derived VHL-associated HBs (VHL-HBs) or 786-O-VHL −/− RCC cells were treated with clinically relevant concentrations of propranolol in vitro and assessed with viability assays, flow cytometry, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, and western blotting. In vivo confirmation of propranolol antitumor activity was confirmed in athymic nude mice bearing 786-O xenograft tumors. Lastly, patients enrolled in a VHL natural history study (NCT00005902) were analyzed for incidental propranolol intake. Propranolol activity against VHL-HBs was assessed retrospectively with volumetric HB growth kinetic analysis.


Propranolol decreased HB and RCC viability in vitro with IC50 (half maximal inhibitory concentration) values of 50 µM and 200 µM, respectively. Similar to prior reports in infantile hemangiomas, propranolol induced apoptosis and paradoxically increased VEGF-A mRNA expression in patient-derived VHL-HBs and 786-O cells. While intracellular VEGF protein levels were not affected by propranolol treatment, propranolol decreased HIF expression in 786-O cells (7.6-fold reduction, p < 0.005). Propranolol attenuated tumor progression compared with control (33% volume reduction at 7 days, p < 0.005) in 786-O xenografted tumor-bearing mice. Three patients (harboring 25 growing CNS HBs) started propranolol therapy during the longitudinal VHL-HB study. HBs in these patients tended to grow slower (median growth rate 27.1 mm3/year vs 13.3 mm3/year) during propranolol treatment (p < 0.0004).


Propranolol decreases VHL-HB and VHL-related RCC viability in vitro likely by modulation of VEGF expression and by inducing apoptosis. Propranolol abrogates 786-O xenograft tumor progression in vivo, and retrospective clinical data suggest that propranolol curtails HB growth. These results suggest that propranolol may play a role in the treatment of VHL-related tumors.

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Dueng-Yuan Hueng and Huey-Kang Sytwu

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Robert J. Weil, Zhengping Zhuang, Svetlana Pack, Shimareet Kumar, Lee Helman, Brian G. Fuller, Crystall L. Mackall, and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ Molecular biological techniques have begun to transform modern medicine. These techniques have shown promise in the pathological diagnosis of difficult or uncommon tumors. Accurate molecular diagnosis of the small round-cell tumors, for example, is especially important because divergent therapies may be required to eradicate such disparate lesions as neuroblastoma, lymphoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, central primitive neuroectodermal tumors/medulloblastoma, or Ewing sarcoma (ES). The authors present an unusual case of a primary, extraosseous ES arising from the intramedullary spinal cord, in which molecular studies were required for specific diagnosis and therapeutic guidance.

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Russell R. Lonser, Stuart Walbridge, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Svetlana D. Pack, Tung T. Nguyen, Nitin Gogate, Jeffery J. Olson, Aytac Akbasak, R. Hunt Bobo, Thomas Goffman, Zhengping Zhuang, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. To determine the acute and long-term effects of a therapeutic dose of brain radiation in a primate model, the authors studied the clinical, laboratory, neuroimaging, molecular, and histological outcomes in rhesus monkeys that had received fractionated whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT).

Methods. Twelve 3-year-old male primates (Macaca mulatta) underwent fractionated WBRT (350 cGy for 5 days/week for 2 weeks, total dose 3500 cGy). Animals were followed clinically and with laboratory studies and serial magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. They were killed when they developed medical problems or neurological symptoms, lesions appeared on MR imaging, or at study completion. Gross, histological, and molecular analyses were then performed.

Nine (82%) of 11 animals that underwent long-term follow up (> 2.5 years) developed neurological symptoms and/or enhancing lesions on MR imaging, which were defined as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), 2.9 to 8.3 years after radiation therapy. The GBMs were categorized as either unifocal (three) or multifocal (six), and were located in the supratentorial (six), infratentorial (two), or both (one) cranial regions. Histological examination revealed distant, noncontiguous tumor invasion within the white matter of all nine animals harboring GBMs. Novel interspecies comparative genomic hybridization (three animals) uniformly showed deletions in the GBMs that corresponded to chromosome 9 in humans.

Conclusions. The high rate of GBM formation (82%) following a therapeutic dose of WBRT in nonhuman primates indicates that radioinduction of these neoplasms as a late complication of this therapy may occur more frequently than is currently recognized in human patients. The development of these tumors while monitoring the monkeys' conditions with clinical and serial MR imaging studies, and access to the tumor and the entire brain for histological and molecular analyses offers an opportunity to gather unique insights into the nature and development of GBMs.

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Zhengping Zhuang, Meng Qi, Jie Li, Hiroaki Okamoto, David S. Xu, Rajiv R. Iyer, Jie Lu, Chunzhang Yang, Robert J. Weil, Alexander Vortmeyer, and Russell R. Lonser


Astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas are primary CNS tumors that remain a challenge to differentiate histologically because of their morphological variability and because there is a lack of reliable differential diagnostic markers. To identify proteins that are differentially expressed between astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas, the authors analyzed the proteomic expression patterns and identified uniquely expressed proteins in these neoplasms.


Proteomes of astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas were analyzed using 2D gel electrophoresis and subsequent computerized gel analysis to detect differentially expressed proteins. The proteins were identified using high-performance liquid chromatography accompanied by tandem mass spectrometry. To determine the role of the differentially expressed proteins in astrocytes, undifferentiated glial cell cultures were treated with dibutyryl–cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).


Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed that glutamine synthetase was differentially expressed in astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas. Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses confirmed the increased expression of glutamine synthetase in astrocytomas compared with oligodendrogliomas. Whereas glutamine synthetase expression was demonstrated across all grades of astrocytomas (Grade II–IV [15 tumors]) and oligoastrocytomas (4 tumors), it was expressed in only 1 oligodendroglioma (6% [16 tumors]). Treatment of undifferentiated glial cell cultures with dibutyryl-cAMP resulted in astrocyte differentiation that was associated with increased levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein and glutamine synthetase.


These data indicate that glutamine synthetase expression can be used to distinguish astrocytic from oligodendroglial tumors and may play a role in the pathogenesis of astrocytomas.