Risk-adapted therapy and biological heterogeneity in pineoblastoma: integrated clinico-pathological analysis from the prospective, multi-center SJMB03 and SJYC07 trials

Acta Neuropathol. 2020 Feb;139(2):259-271. doi: 10.1007/s00401-019-02106-9. Epub 2019 Dec 4.


Pineoblastoma is a rare embryonal tumor of childhood that is conventionally treated with high-dose craniospinal irradiation (CSI). Multi-dimensional molecular evaluation of pineoblastoma and associated intertumoral heterogeneity is lacking. Herein, we report outcomes and molecular features of children with pineoblastoma from two multi-center, risk-adapted trials (SJMB03 for patients ≥ 3 years; SJYC07 for patients < 3 years) complemented by a non-protocol institutional cohort. The clinical cohort consisted of 58 patients with histologically diagnosed pineoblastoma (SJMB03 = 30, SJYC07 = 12, non-protocol = 16, including 12 managed with SJMB03-like therapy). The SJMB03 protocol comprised risk-adapted CSI (average-risk = 23.4 Gy, high-risk = 36 Gy) with radiation boost to the primary site and adjuvant chemotherapy. The SJYC07 protocol consisted of induction chemotherapy, consolidation with focal radiation (intermediate-risk) or chemotherapy (high-risk), and metronomic maintenance therapy. The molecular cohort comprised 43 pineal parenchymal tumors profiled by DNA methylation array (n = 43), whole-exome sequencing (n = 26), and RNA-sequencing (n = 16). Respective 5-year progression-free survival rates for patients with average-risk or high-risk disease on SJMB03 or SJMB03-like therapy were 100% and 56.5 ± 10.3% (P = 0.007); respective 2-year progression-free survival rates for those with intermediate-risk or high-risk disease on SJYC07 were 14.3 ± 13.2% and 0% (P = 0.375). Of patients with average-risk disease treated with SJMB03/SJMB03-like therapy, 17/18 survived without progression. DNA-methylation analysis revealed four clinically relevant pineoblastoma subgroups: PB-A, PB-B, PB-B-like, and PB-FOXR2. Pineoblastoma subgroups differed in age at diagnosis, propensity for metastasis, cytogenetics, and clinical outcomes. Alterations in the miRNA-processing pathway genes DICER1, DROSHA, and DGCR8 were recurrent and mutually exclusive in PB-B and PB-B-like subgroups; PB-FOXR2 samples universally overexpressed the FOXR2 proto-oncogene. Our findings suggest superior outcome amongst older children with average-risk pineoblastoma treated with reduced-dose CSI. The identification of biologically and clinically distinct pineoblastoma subgroups warrants consideration of future molecularly-driven treatment protocols for this rare pediatric brain tumor entity.

Keywords: Clinical trial; DICER1; FOXR2; MicroRNA processing; Molecular subgroups; Pineoblastoma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA Methylation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pineal Gland*
  • Pinealoma / genetics*
  • Pinealoma / pathology*
  • Pinealoma / therapy
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Young Adult