Oligodendrogliomas. Part I: Patterns of growth, histological diagnosis, clinical and imaging correlations: a study of 153 cases

J Neurooncol. 1997 Aug;34(1):37-59. doi: 10.1023/a:1005707203596.


The present study has attempted to demonstrate that the morphological spectrum of oligodendrogliomas includes tumors which are traditionally misinterpreted as 'diffuse fibrillary astrocytoma'. We have shown that these tumors are in fact made of isolated neoplastic oligodendrocytes which are entrapped in a fibrillary background composed of axons and fibrillary reactive gliosis. Analysis in a series of 153 'pure' supratentorial oligodendrogliomas composed of 'classical' or pseudo 'diffuse fibrillary oligodendrogliomas' diagnosed by imaging-based serial stereotactic biopsies showed that 2/3 of the tumors were exclusively made of isolated tumor cells (ITCs) (structure type III) and that only 1/3 of them exhibited both ITCs and solid tumor tissue components (structure type II). The tumor tissue destroys the brain parenchyma and contains new formed microblood vessels whereas ITCs do not destroy the parenchyma and are not associated with microangiogenesis. These fundamentally opposite morphological characteristics were reflected by the following findings: 1) contrast enhancement was observed in 64% of structure type II but was never seen in structure type III oligodendrogliomas. 2) a neurological deficit occurred in 57% of structure type II but in only 8% of structure type III oligodendrogliomas. 3) using the new grading system described in the companion paper to this study, we found that the biological behavior of oligodendrogliomas was also closely related to the patterns of tumor growth. From a synthesis of data gathered in this study it is suggested that emergence of microangiogenesis within a tumor which at first grows slowly with a structure type III pattern is a crucial event toward more aggressive behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytoma / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / classification*
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Cell Division
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Oligodendroglioma / classification*
  • Oligodendroglioma / diagnostic imaging
  • Oligodendroglioma / pathology*
  • Oligodendroglioma / ultrastructure
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed