Transcriptional diversity of long-term glioblastoma survivors

Neuro Oncol. 2014 Sep;16(9):1186-95. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nou043. Epub 2014 Mar 23.


Background: Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly aggressive type of glioma with poor prognosis. However, a small number of patients live much longer than the median survival. A better understanding of these long-term survivors (LTSs) may provide important insight into the biology of GBM.

Methods: We identified 7 patients with GBM, treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), with survival >48 months. We characterized the transcriptome of each patient and determined rates of MGMT promoter methylation and IDH1 and IDH2 mutational status. We identified LTSs in 2 independent cohorts (The Cancer Genome Atlas [TCGA] and NCI Repository for Molecular Brain Neoplasia Data [REMBRANDT]) and analyzed the transcriptomal characteristics of these LTSs.

Results: The median overall survival of our cohort was 62.5 months. LTSs were distributed between the proneural (n = 2), neural (n = 2), classical (n = 2), and mesenchymal (n = 1) subtypes. Similarly, LTS in the TCGA and REMBRANDT cohorts demonstrated diverse transcriptomal subclassification identities. The majority of the MSKCC LTSs (71%) were found to have methylation of the MGMT promoter. None of the patients had an IDH1 or IDH2 mutation, and IDH mutation occurred in a minority of the TCGA LTSs as well. A set of 60 genes was found to be differentially expressed in the MSKCC and TCGA LTSs.

Conclusions: While IDH mutant proneural tumors impart a better prognosis in the short-term, survival beyond 4 years does not require IDH mutation and is not dictated by a single transcriptional subclass. In contrast, MGMT methylation continues to have strong prognostic value for survival beyond 4 years. These findings have substantial impact for understanding GBM biology and progression.

Keywords: TCGA; gene expression; glioblastoma; prognostic genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality*
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA Modification Methylases / genetics*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA Repair Enzymes / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Glioblastoma / genetics*
  • Glioblastoma / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Prognosis
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Survivors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics*


  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase
  • isocitrate dehydrogenase 2, human
  • IDH1 protein, human
  • DNA Modification Methylases
  • MGMT protein, human
  • DNA Repair Enzymes

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE54077