Weighing ependymoma as an epigenetic disease

J Neurooncol. 2020 Oct;150(1):57-61. doi: 10.1007/s11060-020-03562-0. Epub 2020 Sep 22.


Introduction: Ependymoma is the third most common malignant pediatric brain tumor. Although the biology that drives ependymoma is slowly being unraveled, the ability to translate these findings to clinical care remains an ongoing challenge. Epigenetic alterations appear to play a central role in the development of molecular classification of ependymoma.

Methods: We reviewed the published literature available describing genetic and epigenetic underpinnings of ependymoma that have been reported to date and have summarized the information regarding genetic drivers of ependymoma that may point us toward therapeutic strategies.

Results: Ependymoma is a molecularly heterogeneous disease which has now been divided into at least nine distinct molecular subtypes based on DNA methylation and gene expression profiling. DNA methylation has emerged as an effective tool for classification of brain tumors alongside histopathology and other molecular diagnostics. There have been large retrospective cohorts describing molecular subgroup identity as a powerful independent predictor of outcome. There is limited published data on prospective trials to date however this is forthcoming which will lead to molecular stratification in the next generation of clinical studies.

Conclusion: This is a review of recent advancements in our understanding of the epigenetic basis of ependymoma and discussion of how these findings reveal potential therapeutic opportunities.

Keywords: Brain; Cancer; Ependymoma; Epigenetics; Pediatric.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Child
  • Ependymoma* / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies

Supplementary concepts

  • Familial ependymoma