Histopathology, classification, and grading of gliomas

Glia. 1995 Nov;15(3):211-21. doi: 10.1002/glia.440150303.


Neoplastic transformation occurs in all glial cell types of the human nervous system, producing a wide variety of clinico-pathological entities and morphological variants. Astrocytomas are most common and span an unusually wide spectrum, ranging from the slowly growing juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma to the highly malignant glioblastoma multiforme. Diffusely infiltrating astrocytomas of the cerebral hemispheres show an inherent tendency for progression towards a more malignant phenotype. This change is morphologically categorized in histologic grading schemes (e.g., WHO Grade II to IV) and is associated with the sequential acquisition of genetic alterations, including mutations in the p53 and homozygous deletions of the p16 tumour suppressor genes. Loss of heterozygosity on chromosomes 10 and 19q as well as amplification of the EGF receptor are largely restricted to malignant gliomas and thus considered late events in astrocytoma progression. Gliomas often show phenotypic expression of different glial cell lineages (e.g., oligoastrocytoma). Recent studies suggest that the occurrence of mixed gliomas is not indicative of a polyclonal origin but rather reflects altered gene expression, leading to a change in the balance of growth factors influencing glioma differentiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytoma / classification
  • Astrocytoma / pathology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / classification
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ependymoma / classification
  • Ependymoma / pathology
  • Glioblastoma / classification
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Glioma / classification
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Oligodendroglioma / classification
  • Oligodendroglioma / pathology