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Acta Neuropathol. 2002 Mar;103(3):267-75. Epub 2001 Nov 22.

Phenotype versus genotype correlation in oligodendrogliomas and low-grade diffuse astrocytomas.

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Unit of Molecular Pathology, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 150 cours Albert Thomas, 69372 Lyon Cedex 08, France.


Oligodendrogliomas typically show loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on chromosomes 1p and 19q, which correlates with their response to chemotherapy, whereas low-grade astrocytomas are characterized by frequent TP53 mutations and lack of sensitivity to alkylating therapeutic agents. Unequivocal histological distinction of low-grade diffuse astrocytomas from oligodendrogliomas and oligoastrocytomas is often difficult. To elucidate the relationships between morphological phenotype and genetic profile, we screened 19 oligodendrogliomas (WHO grade II) and 23 low-grade diffuse astrocytomas (WHO grade II) for TP53 mutations and LOH on 1p and 19q. In oligodendrogliomas, LOH on chromosomes 1p and/or 19q was found in 15 cases (79%) and TP53 mutation was detected in 4 cases (21%). The presence of a typical perinuclear halo in >50% of tumour cells and a chicken-wire vascular pattern were significantly associated with LOH on 1p or 19q (93% of cases). This suggests that oligodendrogliomas with classical histologic features are likely to have a better prognosis. In low-grade diffuse astrocytomas, LOH on chromosomes 1p and/or 19q was found in three cases (13%) and TP53 mutation was detected in ten cases (43%). Histologically, five low-grade astrocytomas (22%) contained small areas with oligodendroglial differentiation, but this did not correlate with the presence of TP53 mutations or LOH on 1p and 19q. In both oligodendrogliomas and astrocytomas, LOH on chromosomes 1p or 19q and TP53 mutation were mutually exclusive. Methylation of the promoter of the gene for O (6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), a DNA repair protein, which confers resistance to chemotherapy with alkylating agents, was detected in 47% of oligodendrogliomas and 48% of low-grade diffuse astrocytomas. There was no correlation with LOH on chromosomes 1p/19q, suggesting that MGMT may not be a prognostic marker for oligodendrogliomas.

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