Molecular markers that identify human astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas

Brian Popko, Dennis K. Pearl, Diane M. Walker, Theodore C. Comas, Kristine D. Baerwald, Peter C. Burger, Bernd W. Scheithauer, Allan J. Yates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The classification of human gliomas is currently based solely on neuropathological criteria. Prognostic and therapeutic parameters are dependent upon whether the tumors are deemed to be of astrocytic or oligodendroglial in origin. We sought to identify molecular reagents that might provide a more objective parameter to assist in the classification of these tumors. In order to identify mRNA transcripts for genes normally transcribed exclusively by oligodendrocytes, Northern blot analysis was carried out on RNA samples from 138 human gliomas. Transcripts encoding the myelin basic protein (MBP) were found in an equally high percentage of tumors that by neuropathological criteria were either astrocytic or oligodendroglial. In contrast, proteolipid protein (PLP) and cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (CNP) mRNA molecules were found significantly more often in oligodendrogliomas than in astrocytomas. The strongest association with histological typing was found with the transcript for the myelin galactolipid biosynthetic enzyme UDP-galactose: ceramide galactosytransferase (CGT), which was about twice as frequently detected in tumors of oligodendroglial type. Results of glycolipid analyses were previously reported on a subset of the tumors studied herein. Statistical analyses of both molecular and biochemical data on this subset of astrocytomas, oligoastrocytomas, and oligodendrogliomas were performed to determine if a panel of markers could be used to separate astrocytic and oligodendroglial tumors. The presence of asialo GM1 (GA1) and the absence of paragloboside occurred most frequently in oligodendrogliomas. Ceramide monohexoside (CMH) levels correlated highly with the expression of mRNA for 4 myelin proteins: CGT MBP, CNP, and PLP The best combination of 2 markers of oligodendroglial tumors was CGT and GA1; the best combination of 3 markers was the presence of CGT GA1, and the absence of paragloboside. We conclude that this combination of markers could be useful in distinguishing between astrocytic and oligodendroglial tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-338
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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