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Am J Pathol. 2000 Feb;156(2):425-32.

Genetic profile of gliosarcomas.

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  • 1International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.


There are distinct genetic pathways leading to the glioblastoma, the most malignant astrocytic brain tumor. Primary (de novo) glioblastomas develop in older patients and are characterized by epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor amplification/overexpression, p16 deletion, and PTEN mutations, whereas secondary glioblastomas that progressed from low-grade or anaplastic astrocytoma develop in younger patients and frequently contain p53 mutations. In this study, we assessed the genetic profile of gliosarcoma, a rare glioblastoma variant characterized by a biphasic tissue pattern with alternating areas displaying glial and mesenchymal differentiation. Single-strand conformation polymorphism followed by direct DNA sequencing revealed p53 mutations in five of 19 gliosarcomas (26%) and PTEN mutations in seven cases (37%). Homozygous p16 deletion was detected by differential polymerase chain reaction in seven (37%) gliosarcomas. The overall incidence of alterations in the Rb pathway (p16 deletion, CDK4 amplification, or loss of pRb immunoreactivity) was 53%, and these changes were mutually exclusive. Coamplification of CDK4 and MDM2 was detected in one gliosarcoma. None of the gliosarcomas showed amplification or overexpression of the EGF receptor. Thus gliosarcomas exhibit a genetic profile similar to that of primary (de novo) glioblastomas, except for the absence of EGFR amplification/overexpression. Identical PTEN mutations in the gliomatous and sarcomatous tumor components were found in two cases. Other biopsies contained p16 deletions, an identical p53 mutation, or coamplification of MDM2 and CDK4 in both tumor areas. This strongly supports the concept of a monoclonal origin of gliosarcomas and an evolution of the sarcomatous component due to aberrant mesenchymal differentiation in a highly malignant astrocytic neoplasm.

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