'Pseudopalisading' necrosis in glioblastoma: a familiar morphologic feature that links vascular pathology, hypoxia, and angiogenesis

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2006 Jun;65(6):529-39. doi: 10.1097/00005072-200606000-00001.


Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly malignant, rapidly progressive astrocytoma that is distinguished pathologically from lower grade tumors by necrosis and microvascular hyperplasia. Necrotic foci are typically surrounded by "pseudopalisading" cells-a configuration that is relatively unique to malignant gliomas and has long been recognized as an ominous prognostic feature. Precise mechanisms that relate morphology to biologic behavior have not been described. Recent investigations have demonstrated that pseudopalisades are severely hypoxic, overexpress hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1), and secrete proangiogenic factors such as VEGF and IL-8. Thus, the microvascular hyperplasia in GBM that provides a new vasculature and promotes peripheral tumor expansion is tightly linked with the emergence of pseudopalisades. Both pathologic observations and experimental evidence have indicated that the development of hypoxia and necrosis within astrocytomas could arise secondary to vaso-occlusion and intravascular thrombosis. This emerging model suggests that pseudopalisades represent a wave of tumor cells actively migrating away from central hypoxia that arises after a vascular insult. Experimental glioma models have shown that endothelial apoptosis, perhaps resulting from angiopoetin-2, initiates vascular pathology, whereas observations in human tumors have clearly demonstrated that intravascular thrombosis develops with high frequency in the transition to GBM. Tissue factor, the main cellular initiator of thrombosis, is dramatically upregulated in response to PTEN loss and hypoxia in human GBM and could promote a prothrombotic environment that precipitates these events. A prothrombotic environment also activates the family of protease activated receptors (PARs) on tumor cells, which are G-protein-coupled and enhance invasive and proangiogenic properties. Vaso-occlusive and prothrombotic mechanisms in GBM could readily explain the presence of pseudopalisading necrosis in tissue sections, the rapid peripheral expansion on neuroimaging, and the dramatic shift to an accelerated rate of clinical progression resulting from hypoxia-induced angiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Glioblastoma / blood supply*
  • Glioblastoma / complications
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / etiology
  • Hypoxia / pathology*
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Necrosis
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / etiology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / metabolism


  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human