Neurosurgery Blog


Daily bibliographic review of the Neurosurgery Department. La Fe University Hospital. Valencia, Spain

5-Aminolevulinic Acid-derived Tumor Fluorescence: The Diagnostic Accuracy of Visible Fluorescence Qualities as Corroborated by Spectrometry and Histology and Postoperative Imaging


Neurosurgery 74:310–320, 2014

5-Aminolevulinic acid is used for fluorescence-guided resections. During resection, different macroscopic fluorescence qualities (“strong,” “weak”) can be distinguished that help guide resections.

OBJECTIVE: This prospective study was designed to assess the reliability of visible fluorescence qualities by spectrometry, pathology, and imaging.

METHODS: Thirty-three patients with malignant gliomas received 5-aminolevulinic acid (20 mg/kg). After debulking surgery, standardized biopsies were obtained from tissues with “weak” and “strong” fluorescence and from nonfluorescing near and distant brain for blinded assessment of cell density and tissue type (necrosis, solid or infiltrating tumor, normal tissue). The positive predictive value was calculated. Unresected fluorescing tissue was navigated for blinded correlation to postoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Receiver operating characteristic curves were generated for assessing the classification efficiency of spectrometry.

RESULTS: “Strong” fluorescence corresponded to greater spectrometric fluorescence, solidly proliferating tumor, and high cell densities, whereas “weak” fluorescence corresponded to lower spectrometric fluorescence, infiltrating tumor, and medium cell densities. The positive predictive value was 100% in strongly fluorescing tissue and 95% in weakly fluorescing tissue. Spectrometric fluorescence was detected in marginal tissue without macroscopic fluorescence. Depending on the threshold, spectrometry displayed greater sensitivity but lower specificity (accuracy 88.4%). Residual MRI enhancement in the tumor bed was detected in 15 of 23 (65%) patients with residual fluorescence, but in none of the patients without residual fluorescence.

CONCLUSION: Macroscopic fluorescence qualities predict solid and infiltrating tumor, providing useful information during resection. Fluorescence appears superior to contrast enhancement on MRI for indicating residual tumor. Spectrometry, on the other hand, is more sensitive but less specific, depending on threshold definition.

Blood-based biomarkers for malignant gliomas

Blood-based biomarkers for malignant gliomas

J Neurooncol (2013) 113:345–352

Malignant gliomas remain incurable and present unique challenges to clinicians, radiologists and clinical and translational investigators. One of the major problems in treatment of these tumors is our limited ability to reliably assess tumor response or progression.

The most frequently used neuro-imaging studies (contrast-enhanced MRI and CT) rely on changes of blood–brain barrier (BBB) integrity, providing only an indirect assessment of tumor burden. In addition, the BBB can be altered by commonly used interventions including radiation, glucocorticoids and vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors, further complicating the interpretation of scans. Newer radiologic techniques including PET and magnetic resonance spectroscopy are theoretically promising but thus far have not meaningfully changed the assessment of patients with malignant gliomas. A tumor-specific, bloodbased biomarker would be of immediate use to clinicians and investigators if sufficiently sensitive and specific.

This review discusses the potential utility of such a biomarker, the general classes of tumor-derived blood-based biomarkers and it summarizes the currently available data on circulating tumor cells, circulating nucleic acids and circulating proteins in patients with malignant gliomas. It is unclear which marker or marker class appears to be the most promising for these tumors.

This article provides thoughts on how novel candidate blood-based markers could be discovered and tested in a more comprehensive way and why these efforts should be among the top priorities in neuro-oncologic research in the coming years.

Cell Surface Receptors in Malignant Glioma

Neurosurgery 69:980–994, 2011 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e318220a672

Despite advances in surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, malignant gliomas are still highly lethal tumors. Traditional treatments that rely on nonspecific, cytotoxic approaches have a marginal impact on patient survival.

However, recent advances in the molecular cancer biology underlying glioma pathogenesis have revealed that abnormalities in common cell surface receptors, including receptor tyrosine kinase and other cytokines, mediate the abnormal cellular signal pathways and aggressive biological behavior among the majority of these tumors.

Some cell surface receptors have been targeted by novel agents in preclinical and clinical development. Such cancer-specific targeted agents might offer the promise of improved cancer control without substantial toxicity.

Here, we review these common cell surface receptors with clinical significance for malignant glioma and discuss the molecular characteristics, pathological significance, and potential therapeutic application of these cell surface receptors.

We also summarize the clinical trials of drugs targeting these cell surface receptors in malignant glioma patients.

Delta-aminolevulinic acid–induced protoporphyrin IX concentration correlates with histopathologic markers of malignancy in human gliomas: the need for quantitative fluorescence-guided resection to identify regions of increasing malignancy

Neuro-Oncology 13(8):846–856, 2011. doi:10.1093/neuonc/nor086

Extent of resection is a major goal and prognostic factor in the treatment of gliomas. In this study we evaluate whether quantitative ex vivo tissue measurements of d-aminolevulinic acid–induced protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) identify regions of increasing malignancy in low- and high-grade gliomas beyond the capabilities of current fluorescence imaging in patients undergoing fluorescence-guided resection (FGR).

Surgical specimens were collected from 133 biopsies in 23 patients and processed for ex vivo neuropathological analysis: PpIX fluorimetry to measure PpIX concentrations (CPpIX) and Ki-67 immunohistochemistry to assess tissue proliferation. Samples displaying visible levels of fluorescence showed significantly higher levels of CPpIX and tissue proliferation. CPpIX was strongly correlated with histopathological score (nonparametric) and tissue proliferation (parametric), such that increasing levels of CPpIX were identified with regions of increasing malignancy. Furthermore, a large percentage of tumor-positive biopsy sites (∼40%) that were not visibly fluorescent under the operating microscope had levels of CPpIX greater than 0.1 mg/mL, which indicates that significant PpIX accumulation exists below the detection threshold of current fluorescence imaging.

Although PpIX fluorescence is recognized as a visual biomarker for neurosurgical resection guidance, these data show that it is quantitatively related at the microscopic level to increasing malignancy in both low- and high-grade gliomas. This work suggests a need for improved PpIX fluorescence detection technologies to achieve better sensitivity and quantification of PpIX in tissue during surgery.

Coregistered fluorescence-enhanced tumor resection of malignant glioma: relationships between δ-aminolevulinic acid–induced protoporphyrin IX fluorescence, magnetic resonance imaging enhancement, and neuropathological parameters

J Neurosurg 114:595–603,2011.DOI: 10.3171/2010.2.JNS091322.

The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between intraoperative fluorescence, features on MR imaging, and neuropathological parameters in 11 cases of newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) treated using protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) fluorescence-guided resection.

Methods. In 11 patients with a newly diagnosed GBM, δ-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) was administered to enhance endogenous synthesis of the fluorophore PpIX. The patients then underwent fluorescence-guided resection, coregistered with conventional neuronavigational image guidance. Biopsy specimens were collected at different times during surgery and assigned a fluorescence level of 0–3 (0, no fluorescence; 1, low fluorescence; 2, moderate fluorescence; or 3, high fluorescence). Contrast enhancement on MR imaging was quantified using two image metrics: 1) Gd-enhanced signal intensity (GdE) on T1-weighted subtraction MR image volumes, and 2) normalized contrast ratios (nCRs) in T1-weighted, postGd-injection MR image volumes for each biopsy specimen, using the biopsy-specific image-space coordinate transformation provided by the navigation system. Subsequently, each GdE and nCR value was grouped into one of two fluorescence categories, defined by its corresponding biopsy specimen fluorescence assessment as negative fluorescence (fluorescence level 0) or positive fluorescence (fluorescence level 1, 2, or 3). A single neuropathologist analyzed the H & E–stained tissue slides of each biopsy specimen and measured three neuropathological parameters: 1) histopathological score (0–IV); 2) tumor burden score (0–III); and 3) necrotic burden score (0–III).

Results. Mixed-model analyses with random effects for individuals show a highly statistically significant difference between fluorescing and nonfluorescing tissue in GdE (mean difference 8.33, p = 0.018) and nCRs (mean difference 5.15, p < 0.001). An analysis of association demonstrated a significant relationship between the levels of intraoperative fluorescence and histopathological score (χ2 = 58.8, p < 0.001), between fluorescence levels and tumor burden (χ2 = 42.7, p < 0.001), and between fluorescence levels and necrotic burden (χ2 = 30.9, p < 0.001). The corresponding Spearman rank correlation coefficients were 0.51 (p < 0.001) for fluorescence and histopathological score, and 0.49 (p < 0.001) for fluorescence and tumor burden, suggesting a strongly positive relationship for each of these variables.

Conclusions. These results demonstrate a significant relationship between contrast enhancement on preoperative MR imaging and observable intraoperative PpIX fluorescence. The finding that preoperative MR image signatures are predictive of intraoperative PpIX fluorescence is of practical importance for identifying candidates for the procedure. Furthermore, this study provides evidence that a strong relationship exists between tumor aggressiveness and the degree of tissue fluorescence that is observable intraoperatively, and that observable fluorescence has an excellent positive predictive value but a low negative predictive value.

Counterbalancing risks and gains from extended resections in malignant glioma surgery: a supplemental analysis from the randomized 5-aminolevulinic acid glioma resection study

J Neurosurg 114:613–623, 2011. DOI: 10.3171/2010.3.JNS097

Accumulating data suggest more aggressive surgery in patients with malignant glioma to improve outcome. However, extended surgery may increase morbidity. The randomized Phase III 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) study investigated 5-ALA–induced fluorescence as a tool for improving resections. An interim analysis demonstrated more frequent complete resections with longer progression-free survival (PFS). However, marginal differences were found regarding neurological deterioration and the frequency of additional therapies. Presently, the authors focus on the latter aspects in the final study population, and attempt to determine how safety might be affected by cytoreductive surgery.

Methods. Patients with malignant gliomas were randomized for fluorescence-guided (ALA group) or conventional white light (WL) (WL group) microsurgery. The final intent-to-treat population consisted of 176 patients in the ALA and 173 in the WL group. Primary efficacy variables were contrast-enhancing tumor on early MR imaging and 6-month PFS. Among secondary outcome measures, the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIH-SS) score and the Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score were used for assessing neurological function.

Results. More frequent complete resections and improved PFS were confirmed, with higher median residual tumor volumes in the WL group (0.5 vs 0 cm3, p = 0.001). Patients in the ALA group had more frequent deterioration on the NIH-SS at 48 hours. Patients at risk were those with deficits unresponsive to steroids. No differences were found in the KPS score. Regarding outcome, a combined end point of risks and neurological deficits was attempted, which demonstrated results in patients in the ALA group to be superior to those in participants in the WL group. Interestingly, the cumulative incidence of repeat surgery was significantly reduced in ALA patients. When stratified by completeness of resection, patients with incomplete resections were quicker to deteriorate neurologically (p = 0.0036).

Conclusions. Extended resections performed using a tool such as 5-ALA–derived tumor fluorescence, carries the risk of temporary impairment of neurological function. However, risks are higher in patients with deficits unresponsive to steroids.

First-line treatment of malignant glioma with carmustine implants followed by concomitant radiochemotherapy: a multicenter experience

Neurosurg Rev DOI 10.1007/s10143-010-0280-7

Randomized phase III trials have shown significant improvement of survival 1, 2, and 3 years after implantation of 1,3-bis (2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU) wafers for patients with newly diagnosed malignant glioma. But these studies and subsequent non-phase III studies have also shown risks associated with local chemotherapy within the central nervous system. The introduction of concomitant radiochemotherapy with temozolomide (TMZ) has later demonstrated a survival benefit in a phase III trial and has become the current treatment standard for newly diagnosed malignant glioma patients. Lately, this has resulted in clinical protocols combining local chemotherapy with BCNU wafers and concomitant radiochemotherapy with TMZ although this may carry the risk of increased toxicity. We have compiled the treatment experience of seven neurosurgical centers using implantation of carmustine wafers at primary surgery followed by 6 weeks of radiation therapy (59–60 Gy) and 75 mg/m2/day TMZ in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma followed by TMZ monochemotherapy. We have retrospectively analyzed the postoperative clinical course, occurrence and severity of adverse events, progression-free interval, and overall survival in 44 patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme. All patients received multimodal treatment including tumor resection, BCNU wafer implantation, and concomitant radiochemotherapy. Of 44 patients (mean age 59±10.8 years) with glioblastoma who received Gliadel wafer at primary surgery, 28 patients (64%) had died, 16 patients (36%) were alive, and 15 patients showed no evidence of clinical or radiographic progression after a median follow-up of 15.6 months. At time of analysis of adverse events in this patient population, the median overall survival was 12.7 months and median progression-free survival was 7.0 months. Surgical, neurological, and medical adverse events were analyzed. Twenty-three patients (52%) experienced adverse events of any kind including complications that did not require treatment. Nineteen patients (43%) experienced grade 3 or grade 4 adverse events. Surgical complications included cerebral edema, healing abnormalities, cerebral spinal fluid leakage, meningitis, intracranial abscess, and hydrocephalus. Neurological adverse events included newly diagnosed seizures, alteration of mental status, and new neurological deficits. Medical complications were thromboembolic events (thrombosis, pulmonary embolism) and hematotoxicity. Combination of both treatment strategies, local chemotherapy with BCNU wafer and concomitant radiochemotherapy, appears attractive in aggressive multimodal treatment schedules and may utilize the sensitizing effect of TMZ and carmustine on MGMT and AGT on their respective drug resistance genes. Our data demonstrate that combination of local chemotherapy and concomitant radiochemotherapy carries a significant risk of toxicity that currently appears underestimated. Adverse events observed in this study appear similar to complication rates published in the phase III trials for BCNU wafer implantation followed by radiation therapy alone, but further add the toxicity of concomitant radiochemotherapy with systemic TMZ. Save use of a combined approach will require specific prevention strategies for multimodal treatments.

Neurosurgery Department. “La Fe” University Hospital. Valencia, Spain


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