Gangliosides as diagnostic markers of human astrocytomas and primitive neuroectodermal tumors

Ching‐Ching ‐C Sung, Dennis K. Pearl, Stephen W. Coons, Bernd W. Scheithauer, Peter C. Johnson, Allan J. Yates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background. Limitations of classification schemes for brain tumors based solely on morphology have stimulated searches for molecular markers of nosologic and prognostic value. Gangliosides are logical candidates because there are high concentrations of them in the nervous system, there is evidence of their roles in regulation of growth and differentiation, and data from small series suggest correlations between ganglioside composition and glioma type. Methods. Ganglioside compositions were determined for 70 primary human brain tumors: 16 low grade astrocytomas (LG), 12 anaplastic astrocytomas (AA), 34 glioblastoma multiformes (GEM), and B primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET). This method involved identification and quantitation of specific gangliosides using chemical analysis and immunoanalysis. Results. Among all tumor types, histologic grade correlated with a progressive loss of 1b gangliosides (P < 0.0001). Both was higher in LGs than in AAs (P < 0.001). Both GTlb and GDlb were higher in AAs than GBMs (P < 0.01 and 0.05, respectively) and lower in PNETs than in GBMs (P < 0.05). GM3 was higher in PNETs than in any astrocytoma group and higher in GBMs than in either AAs or LGs. There was a significant difference in the content of 3′‐LM1 among all groups (P < 0.005), between AAs and GBMs <P < 0.05), and between low grade ordinary and juvenile pilocytic astrocyomas (P < 0.01). The lacto‐series ganglioside 3′‐isoLM1 was present in all groups except PNET. Conclusions. These results indicate that patterns of gangliosides could be of considerable value in refining the classification and diagnosis of primary human brain tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3010-3022
Number of pages13
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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