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Folia Neuropathol. 2008;46(3):186-95.

Asymptomatic and symptomatic glial cysts of the pineal gland.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Neuropathology, Mossakowski Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, and Department of Neurosurgery, Brodnowski District Hospital, Warsaw, Poland.


Glial cysts of the pineal gland are benign and mostly asymptomatic incidental lesions found in the brain MRI or at autopsy examinations. In rare cases pineal cysts become symptomatic and require surgical intervention. Symptomatic glial cysts may be clinically and radiologically indistinguishable from cystic neoplasms of the pineal region; therefore, histopathological diagnosis is critical for further prognosis and therapy in operated patients. In this paper we present detailed histopathological characteristics of symptomatic glial cysts in 2 surgical cases and of asymptomatic cysts of the pineal gland found at random in 3 autopsy cases. Both surgical patients, a 19-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, presented with severe headaches, associated with syncope in one case and insomnia in the second one. Preoperative MR imaging suggested tumour of the pineal gland in case no. 2. Histopathological and immunohistochemical examination of the specimens from both surgical and all autopsy cases revealed a characteristic pattern of cystic structures within the pineal gland, surrounded by layers of a dense fibrillar glial tissue and pineal parenchyma, consistent with non-neoplastic glial cysts. Although histopathological findings in asymptomatic and symptomatic cysts are essentially the same, the cyst in surgical case 1 was unilocular and partly lined with ependymal cells, whereas the cysts in other cases were multilocular, comprising cavities of various size, formed in the central part of gliotic tissue or directly within the pineal parenchyma, and lacked ependymal lining. Possible pathophysiological and clinicopathological significance of some morphological variants of pineal glial cysts is discussed.

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