Pathology of pineal region tumors

J Neurooncol. 2001 Sep;54(3):239-49. doi: 10.1023/a:1012721723387.


Various histological types of tumors arise in the pineal region. The most common tumors are pineal parenchymal tumors and germ cell tumors. Pineal parenchymal tumors are divided into pineocytoma, pineal parenchymal tumor with intermediate differentiation and pineoblastoma. Pineocytomas are well-differentiated tumors and retain the morphological and immunohistochemical features of pineal parenchymal cells. Lobular architectures and pineocytomatous rosettes are also typical features. In contrast, pineoblastomas are embryonal tumors resembling primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET). However, pineoblastomas are distinct from PNET in other sites due to their exhibiting photosensory differentiation including Flexner-Wintersteiner rosettes and fleurettes. Although pineal cysts are tumor-like lesions, and not true neoplasms, they are occasionally difficult to distinguish from pineocytoma and astrocytoma. From the therapeutic aspect, a precise differential diagnosis is critical. The pineal region is the most common site of the brain in which germ cell tumors occur. Germinoma, teratoma, embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac tumor and choriocarcinoma are encountered, and the latter three types of tumors usually constitute elements of mixed germ cell tumors. The morphological and immunohistochemical features of intracranial germ cell tumors are very similar to those of gonadal germ cell tumors, although there are some differences in germinoma. Pineal germinoma may exhibit carcinomatous differentiation. Other types of tumors are occasionally observed, including fibrillary and pilocytic astrocytoma, glioblastoma, ependymoma, melanoma, meningioma and so on. Metastatic pineal tumors are also rare. The most common site of origin for pineal metastasis is the lung.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary
  • Germinoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neuroectodermal Tumors / pathology
  • Pineal Gland*