Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma: DNA flow cytometry and outcome analysis of 12 patients

Robert C. Rostomily, John W. Hoyt, Mitchel S. Berger, Johan M. Kros, Ellsworth C. Alvord, Peter Wilkins, Peter Rabinovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma (PXA) is an astrocytic tumor occurring primarily in childhood and adolescence with some malignant histologic features but a relatively slow clinical course. However, some tumors progress more rapidly and can undergo malignant degeneration. The authors attempted to determine whether various histologic features or tumor cell proliferative indices might help identify lesions at risk for early progression and distinguish PXAs from malignant gliomas. METHODS. In a retrospective study of 12 patients with PXA, the tumor's histologic features and DNA flow cytometric parameters were compared with their clinical course. DNA flow cytometry values for the S- and G2-phase of the PXAs also were compared with control group samples of malignant and low grade astrocytomas. RESULTS. Of the 12 tumors at initial diagnosis, 5 were considered typical PXAs whereas 7 had some atypical features (4 with paucity of reticulin fibers, 1 with focal necrosis, and 2 with both atypical reticulin and focal necrosis). During the follow-up period (range, 3.75-11 years; mean, 6.8 years), 2 patients had recurrences; 1 atypical reticulin PXA progressed to glioblastoma after 6.5 years and the 1 tumor with focal necrosis recurred at 6 months and again at 2 years with typical histologic features. DNA flow cytometry parameters of the typical PXA group were similar to values for malignant astrocytoma and significantly higher than values for control specimens of low grade astrocytomas. There were no distinctive DNA flow cytometric features that could distinguish this last tumor from others with a more benign clinical course. CONCLUSIONS. Measurements of the S-phase and G2- phase obtained from DNA flow cytometry and atypical histologic features cannot reliably identify PXA patients at risk for early progression and overall are significantly higher than values obtained for low grade gliomas. Therefore, frequent (i.e., two to three times per year) postoperative clinical and radiologic examinations are necessary to judge the appropriateness of adjuvant therapy in patients with PXA. The paradox of slow growth but DNA flow cytometry consistent with aggressive malignant lesions may represent a cell-cycle arrest mechanism in these lesions that could be verified in subsequent studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2141-2150
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997


  • Astrocytoma
  • DNA flow cytometry
  • Glioma
  • Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma
  • Tumor recurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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