Background: Telomerase activity and telomere length have been shown to be involved in the control of cell proliferation and regulation of cell senescence. The expression of telomerase activity may endow cells with the capacity of unlimited proliferation and immortality. The authors examined the telomerase activity and telomere length of intracranial meningiomas to determine the relation between the results and the clinicopathologic behavior of these tumors.
Methods: Sixty-two specimens of meningiomas including 13 atypical and malignant tumors were used in this study. Telomerase activity was measured with polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosolvent assay. Telomere length was measured by detecting the terminal restriction fragments using Southern blots.
Results: Detectable telomerase activity was found in 4 of 13 (30.8%) malignant or atypical meningiomas and only 1 in 49 benign meningiomas (P = 0.006). Elongated telomere length was measured in 6 of 13 (46.1%) patients with malignant or atypical meningiomas and only 1 of 48 (2.1%) in those with benign tumors (P = 0.0002). Three of 4 (75%) of malignant or atypical meningiomas with detectable telomerase activity revealed shortened telomere length, and all tumors with elongated telomere length displayed undetectable telomerase activity. The percentage of malignant or atypical meningiomas with detectable telomerase activity or elongated telomere were significantly higher (76.9%) than that of benign tumors (4.0%). The proliferative index was calculated as the percentage of tumor cell nuclei immunoreactive for Ki-67 to total tumor nuclei. The mean values of proliferative index in benign, atypical, and malignant meningiomas were 1.2, 11.0, and 30.0, respectively.
Conclusions: The results indicate that telomerase activation may be a critical step in the pathogenesis of malignant or atypical meningioma. Elongation of the telomere length also implicates the high potential for malignant behavior in these tumors.
Copyright 2000 American Cancer Society.