Germline inactivation of PTEN and dysregulation of the phosphoinositol-3-kinase/Akt pathway cause human Lhermitte-Duclos disease in adults

Am J Hum Genet. 2003 Nov;73(5):1191-8. doi: 10.1086/379382. Epub 2003 Oct 17.


Lhermitte-Duclos disease (LDD), or dysplastic gangliocytoma of the cerebellum, is an unusual hamartomatous overgrowth disorder. LDD can be familial or, more commonly, sporadic. It has been only recently recognized that LDD may be associated with Cowden syndrome (CS). Over 80% of patients with CS carry germline mutations in PTEN. It remains unclear whether all cases of LDD, even without features of CS, are caused by germline PTEN mutation and whether somatic PTEN mutation occurs in sporadic LDD. We obtained paraffin-embedded LDD lesions from 18 unselected, unrelated patients and performed mutational analysis of PTEN. Overall, 15 (83%) of 18 samples were found to carry a PTEN mutation. All individuals with mutations were adult-onset patients, but the three without mutations were diagnosed at the ages of 1, 3, and 11 years. Germline DNA was available from six adult-onset cases, and all had germline PTEN mutations. Of these six, two had CS features, one did not have CS features, and three were of unknown CS status. Immunohistochemistry revealed that 75% of the LDD samples had complete or partial loss of PTEN expression accompanied by elevated phosphorylated Akt, specifically in the dysplastic gangliocytoma cells. These data suggest that the loss of PTEN function is sufficient to cause LDD. The high frequency and spectrum of germline PTEN mutations in patients ascertaining by LDD alone confirm that LDD is an important defining feature of CS. Individuals with LDD, even without apparent CS features, should be counseled as in CS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • Ganglioneuroma / enzymology
  • Ganglioneuroma / genetics*
  • Ganglioneuroma / metabolism
  • Germ-Line Mutation / genetics*
  • Hamartoma / enzymology
  • Hamartoma / genetics*
  • Hamartoma / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / genetics*
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • AKT1 protein, human
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human