Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma: a distinctive meningocerebral glioma of young subjects with relatively favorable prognosis. A study of 12 cases

Cancer. 1979 Nov;44(5):1839-52. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(197911)44:5<1839::aid-cncr2820440543>;2-0.


Twelve cases of a distinctive form of supratentorial astrocytoma occurring in young subjects (ages 7 to 25) are reported. The tumors were superficial and involved the leptomeninges extensively. The tumor cells display marked pleomorphism, including bizarre giant cells and a number of mitotic figures, but no necrosis. Many contain large amounts of lipid in their cytoplasm and are surrounded by reticulin fibers, thus simulating a mesenchymal tumor. For these reasons, some examples of this tumor have been previously interpreted to represent meningocerebral fibrous xanthomas. Immunoperoxidase technique performed in nine of the twelve cases has, however, established the presence of glial fibrillary acidic protein in the tumor cells, which are therefore considered to be astrocytic. By electron microscopy many tumor cells are surrounded by basal laminae, accounting for the abundant reticulin network demonstrable in silver preparations. Since subpial astrocytes are known to be partly covered by a basal lamina, it is likely that they are the cells of origin for this neoplasm. In contrast to its pleomorphic cytology, the biological behavior of this tumor appears to be relatively favorable, and long survival times (up to 25 years) have been recorded in some cases. (These tumors are distinct from intracranial fibrous xanthomas of mesenchymal derivation. Cells of the latter are negative on GFAP stain.)

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Astrocytoma / metabolism
  • Astrocytoma / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fibroma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Prognosis


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins