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Am J Surg Pathol. 1992 Feb;16(2):97-109.

Central neurocytomas. Critical evaluation of a small-cell neuronal tumor.

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Laboratoire d'Anatomie Pathologique, Faculté de Médecine Timone, Marseille, France.


We report herein the clinical and pathological features of 20 patients with central neurocytomas. Investigations for various differentiation antigens and cell type-specific markers were performed by immunohistochemistry using paraffin-embedded tissue. In addition, the expression of L1 adhesion molecule and of the various N.CAM (neural cell adhesion molecule) isoforms were investigated by immunoblotting studies in two frozen specimens. Central neurocytomas are clinically characterized by their intraventricular localization, occurrence in young adults, and good prognosis. It rarely occurs in patients over 50, but such cases have a poor prognosis. Total surgical excision is the best treatment. Radiotherapy is appropriate if surgery is incomplete or contraindicated. Histologically, central neurocytomas display the following features: an oligo-like pattern, usually associated with large fibrillary rosettes or perivascular arrangement, and a rich endocrine-type vasculature. Central neurocytomas have a remarkably homogeneous antigenic profile. GFAP expression is only found in scattered reactive astrocytes, S100 protein in reactive astrocytes and rare tumor cells. Among the pan-neuroendocrine markers, central neurocytomas always express neuron-specific enolase; they frequently express synaptophysin but never chromogranin A. Synaptophysin is the most reliable immunohistological marker for central neurocytomas; however, immunoreactivity could be lost with long formalin fixation. In these cases, electron microscopy is used to support the neuronal nature of the tumor cells. The expression of L1 adhesion molecule and the isoform 180 of N.CAM, indicates that central neurocytomas are formed by cells committed to neuronal phenotype. Nevertheless, advanced neuronal differentiation may be absent, as suggested by the persistence of embryonic N.CAM, the nonexpression of neurofilament proteins, and the absence of mature synapses in numerous cases. Central neurocytomas and neuroblastomas share some biochemical properties, but their respective clinicopathological features and biological behavior are dramatically different.

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