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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2006 Dec;65(12):1149-56.

Expression of oligodendroglial and astrocytic lineage markers in diffuse gliomas: use of YKL-40, ApoE, ASCL1, and NKX2-2.

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Molecular Pathology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 149 13th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


The phenotypic heterogeneity of astrocytic and oligodendroglial tumor cells complicates establishing accurate diagnostic criteria, and lineage-specific markers would facilitate diagnosis of glioma subtypes. Based on data from the literature and from expression microarrays, we selected molecules relevant to gliogenesis and glial lineage specificity and then used immunohistochemistry to assess expression of these molecules in 55 diffuse gliomas, including 8 biphasic oligoastrocytomas, 21 oligodendrogliomas (all with 1p/19qloss), 21 astrocytomas, and 5 glioblastomas. For the astrocytic lineage markers (GFAP, YKL-40, and ApoE), GFAP expression was significantly higher in the astrocytic component of oligoastrocytomas compared with the oligodendroglial part; similar patterns were detected for YKL-40 and ApoE, although the differences were not significant. GFAP, YKL-40, and ApoE reliably distinguished grade II-III oligodendrogliomas from grade II-IV astrocytomas (p < 0.0001, p = 0.002, and p < 0.0001, respectively). Among the oligodendroglial lineage markers (Olig2, Sox10, ASCL1, and NKX2-2), ASCL1 and NKX2-2 displayed significantly different immunostaining between oligodendrogliomas and astrocytomas (p = 0.017 and 0.004, respectively), but none clearly differentiated between the 2 glial populations of oligoastrocytomas. In addition to GFAP, therefore, YKL-40, ApoE, ASCL1, and NKX2-2 represent promising tumor cell markers to distinguish oligodendrogliomas from astrocytomas.

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