The Molecular Biology of Ependymomas


Division of Neuropathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Room A506PUH, 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA; Tel.: 412–647-6615; Fax: 412–647-5602; E-mail:


Intracranial ependymomas are the third most common primary brain tumor in the pediatric population. Although an anaplastic variant is recognized, numerous studies examining the prognostic implications of histological features, such as necrosis, endothelial proliferation and mitoses, have yielded contradictory results. In order to improve outcome prediction in affected patients and to refine therapeutic decision-making, there is a strong need for identifying relevant biological correlates of tumor behavior. The molecular biology of tumors is a rapidly expanding field and includes investigations into cytogenetics, oncogenes, growth factors, growth factor receptors, hormonal receptors, proliferation markers, apoptosis, cell cycle genes and cell adhesion molecules, as well as factors potentially related to therapeutic resistance, such as the multidrug resistance gene. The molecular biology of astrocytic tumors in adults has been the subject of many studies; however, relatively few studies have been focused on ependymomas. Herein we review potential oncological markers in ependymomas that have been identified to date and highlight the limitations of our current knowledge as a basis for defining areas for future investigation.