Molecular and Phenotypic Characterisation of Paediatric Glioma Cell Lines as Models for Preclinical Drug Development
Astrocytomas are the most common pediatric brain tumors, accounting for 7%-8% of all childhood cancers. Relatively few studies have been performed on their molecular properties; therefore, classification of pediatric astrocytic tumors into genetic subtypes similar to that of adult tumors remains to be defined. Here, we report an extensive characterization of 44 pediatric astrocytomas--16 diffuse astrocytomas (WHO grade II), 10 anaplastic astrocytomas (WHO grade III), and 18 glioblastomas (WHO grade IV)--in terms of genetic alterations frequently observed in adult astrocytomas. Some form of p53 mutation was found in three diffuse astrocytomas, in three anaplastic astrocytomas, and in six glioblastomas examined; PTEN mutations were detected only in two glioblastomas. EGFR amplification was detected in only one anaplastic astrocytoma and two glioblastomas, but no amplification was observed for the PDGFR-alpha gene. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on 1p/19q and 10p/10q was less common in pediatric astrocytic tumors than in those seen in adults, but the frequency of LOH on 22q was comparable, occurring in 44% of diffuse astrocytomas, 40% of anaplastic astrocytomas, and 61% of glioblastomas. Interestingly, a higher frequency of p53 mutations and LOH on 19q and 22q in tumors from children six or more years of age at diagnosis was found, compared with those from younger children. Our results suggest some differences in children compared to adults in the genetic pathways leading to the formation of de novo astrocytic tumors. In addition, this study suggests potentially distinct developmental pathways in younger versus older children.