Oncocytic glioblastoma: a glioblastoma showing oncocytic changes and increased mitochondrial DNA copy number

Hum Pathol. 2013 Sep;44(9):1867-76. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2013.02.014. Epub 2013 May 9.


Ten cases of glioblastomas showing oncocytic changes are described. The tumors showed mononuclear to multinuclear cells and abundant, granular, eosinophilic cytoplasm. The cytoplasm of these same cells was filled by strongly immunoreactive mitochondria. At ultrastructure, numerous mitochondria, some of which were large, were evidenced in the cytoplasm of neoplastic cells. Finally, 9 of 10 of these cases had a significantly high mitochondrial DNA content compared with control tissue (P < .01). It seems that, for these tumors, the designation of oncocytic glioblastoma is appropriate. To the best of our knowledge, oncocytic changes have not been previously reported in such neoplasms. Oncocytic glioblastomas have to be added to the long list of various tumors that can manifest "unexpected" oncocytic changes in different organs. Albeit failing to show statistical significance (log-rank test, P = .597; Wilcoxon test, P = .233), we observed a trend for longer median survival in oncocytic glioblastomas, when compared with "ordinary" glioblastomas (median survival of 16 versus 8.7 months). Thus, it seems that the definition of neoplasms showing oncocytic changes, currently based on classic morphological parameters (ie, histology, ultrastructure, and immunohistochemistry), can be expanded by including the quantitative assessment of mitochondrial DNA content.

Keywords: Glioblastoma; Oncocytic features; mtDNA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • DNA Copy Number Variations / genetics*
  • DNA Modification Methylases / genetics
  • DNA Modification Methylases / metabolism
  • DNA Repair Enzymes / genetics
  • DNA Repair Enzymes / metabolism
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Glioblastoma / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / mortality
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Oxyphil Cells / pathology*
  • Survival Rate
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase
  • DNA Modification Methylases
  • MGMT protein, human
  • DNA Repair Enzymes