Cellular and Molecular Biology



Genetic analysis to complement histopathological diagnosis of brain tumors

M. Nakamura1, K. Shimada1, E. Ishida1, H. Nakase2 and N. Konishi1

1Departments of Pathology and 2Neurosurgery, Nara Medical University School of Medicine, Nara, Japan.

Offprint requests to: Noboru Konishi, MD, Department of Pathology, Nara Medical University School of Medicine, 840 Shijo-cho, Kashihara, Nara, 634-8521, Japan. e-mail: nkonishi@naramed-u.ac.jp

Summary. Gliomas, the most frequent tumors originating in the human nervous system, are divided into various subtypes. Currently, microscopic examination alone is insufficient for classification and grading so that genetic profiles are increasingly being emphasized in recognition of the emerging role of molecular diagnostic approaches to glioma classification. Glioblastomas (WHO grade IV) may develop de novo (primary glioblastomas) or through progression from lower-grade astrocytomas (secondary glioblastomas), while both glioblastomas show similar histological features. In contrast, they do constitute distinct disease entities that evolve through different genetic pathways, and are likely to differ in prognosis and response to therapy. Oligodendrogliomas (WHO grade II) account for 2.7% of brain tumors and 5-18% of all gliomas. Since this tumor is recognized as a particular subtype of glioma that shows remarkable responses to chemotherapy, a correct diagnosis is of prime importance. The difficulty is that histological differentiation of oligodendrogliomas from diffuse astrocytomas is highly subjective in cases without typical morphological features and there is a lack of reliable immunohistochemical markers. While histological distinction of low-grade gliomas from reactive astrocytes is also often difficult, reactive astrocytes usually lack genetic alterations. More biological and molecular approaches to glioma classification thus appear warranted to provide improved means to achieve correct diagnoses. Histol Histopathol 22, 327-335 (2007)

Key words: Primary glioblastoma, Secondary glioblastoma, Oligodendroglioma, Diffuse astrocytoma, Reactive astrocyte

DOI: 10.14670/HH-22.327