Clinical significance of the histological and molecular characteristics of ependymal tumors: a single institution case series from China

BMC Cancer. 2019 Jul 19;19(1):717. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-5877-9.


Background: Ependymal tumors are pathologically defined intrinsic neoplasms originating in the intracranial compartments or the spinal cord that affect both children and adults. The recently integrated classification of ependymomas based on both histological and molecular characteristics is capable of subgrouping patients with various prognoses. However, the application of histological and molecular markers in Chinese patients with ependymomas has rarely been reported. We aimed to demonstrate the significance of histological characteristics, the v-relavian reticuloendotheliosis viral oncogene homolog A (RELA) fusions and other molecular features in ependymal tumors.

Methods: We reviewed the histological characteristics of ependymal tumors using conventional pathological slides and investigate the RELA fusions and Cylclin D1 (CCND1) amplification by Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and trimethylation of histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) expression by immunohistochemistry (IHC) methods. SPSS software was used to analyze the data.

Results: We demonstrated that hypercellularity, atypia, microvascular proliferation, necrosis, mitosis, and an elevated Ki-67 index, were tightly associated with an advanced tumor grade. Tumor location, necrosis, mitosis and the Ki-67 index were related to the survival of the ependymomas, but Ki67 was the only independent prognostic factor. Additionally, RELA fusions, mostly presented in pediatric grade III intracranial ependymomas, indicated decreased survival times of patients, and closely related to the patients' age, tumor grade, cellularity, cellular atypia, necrosis and Ki67 index in the intracranial ependymal tumors, whereas reduction of H3K27me3 predicted the worse prognosis in ependymal tumors.

Conclusions: Histological and molecular features facilitate tumor grading and prognostic predictions for ependymal tumors in Chinese patients.

Keywords: Ependymal tumor; H3K27me3; Histological characteristics; Prognosis; RELA.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Child
  • China
  • Cyclin D1 / analysis
  • Ependymoma / pathology*
  • Ependymoma / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Histones / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Ki-67 Antigen / analysis*
  • Male
  • Necrosis
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Prognosis
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / surgery
  • Transcription Factor RelA / analysis*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CCND1 protein, human
  • Histones
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • MKI67 protein, human
  • RELA protein, human
  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • histone H3 trimethyl Lys4
  • Cyclin D1