Expression of p53 and prognosis in children with malignant gliomas

N Engl J Med. 2002 Feb 7;346(6):420-7. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa012224.


Background: The prognosis of children with high-grade gliomas is uncertain, even when clinical and histologic findings are considered. We investigated whether mutations in the TP53 gene or the degree of expression of p53 protein in high-grade gliomas is associated with progression-free survival in children with these tumors.

Methods: Paraffin-embedded specimens of malignant gliomas from children treated in the Children's Cancer Group study CCG-945 were assessed by mutational analysis of TP53 (121 specimens) and immunohistochemical analysis of p53 (115 specimens). For mutational studies, areas of tissue that contained malignant glioma were isolated by microdissection, and the DNA was subjected to polymerase-chain-reaction-based amplification and sequencing of TP53 exons 5, 6, 7, and 8. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed with the use of a microwave-enhanced antigen retrieval and an antibody that bound both wild-type and mutant p53.

Results: We found a significant association between overexpression of p53 and outcome; this association was independent of histologic features, age, sex, the extent of resection, and tumor location. The rate ( +/- SE) of progression-free survival at five years was 44 +/- 6 percent in the group of 74 patients whose tumors had low levels of expression of p53 and 17 +/- 6 percent in the group of 41 patients whose tumors had overexpression of p53 (P<0.001). A nonsignificant association was observed between mutations in TP53 and outcome.

Conclusions: Overexpression of p53 in malignant gliomas during childhood is strongly associated with an adverse outcome, independently of clinical prognostic factors and histologic findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Genes, p53*
  • Glioma / genetics*
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mutation
  • Prognosis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53