Case 4 -
Rosette-Forming Glioneuronal Tumor of the Fourth Ventricle
Anthony T. Yachnis
University of Florida College of Medicine
Click on each slide thumbnail image for an enlarged view
This 53 year old woman came to clinical attention after a two month history of progressively worsening
headaches. Two weeks before admission, the patient experienced intermittent speech problems (dysarthria)
and a gait disturbance. An acute syncopal episode precipitated an emergency room visit and subsequent
admission. Physical examination confirmed signs of cerebellar dysfunction (ataxia, dysdiadokinesia of
the left arm and past pointing of the left finger). Imaging studies revealed a 5 x 3 cm. midline
posterior fossa mass, which occupied most of the fourth ventricle and appeared to arise from the roof of
this structure. The mass was relatively well-circumscribed, showed heterogeneous contrast enhancement on
the T1-weighted MRI, and was associated with significant hydrocephalus. The patient subsequently
underwent a left ventriculostomy and a midline suboccipital craniotomy with gross total excision of the
Case 4 - Figure 1 - T1-weighted MRI showing heterogeneously contrast enhancing fourth ventricular tumor.
Case 4 - Figure 2 - Rosette-forming glioneuronal tumor. Neurocyte-like area with perivascular pseudorosettes and myxoid stroma. Original magnification: 500X.
Case 4 - Figure 3 - Rosette-forming glioneuronal tumor. Low grade astrocytic component with eosinophilic granular bodies.
Case 4 - Figure 4 - Rosette-forming glioneuronal tumor immunostained for synaptophysin showing positive staining of the "core" of a rosette. Original magnification: 1000X.
Diagnosis: Rosette-Forming Glioneuronal Tumor of the Fourth Ventricle
The World Health Organization  category of "neuronal and neuronal-glial mixed tumors" contains
neoplasms with varying morphologic and phenotypic manifestations of neuronal and glial lineage. This
category includes some well-defined clinicopathologic entities such as the ganglioglioma, the
dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor (DNET), and the central neurocytoma. More recently, the spectrum
of neuronal-glial neoplasms has expanded to include several important emerging entities and variants of
central nervous system tumors
. While relatively uncommon, awareness of these entities is important
because of their distinct clinicopathologic characteristics and important therapeutic implications.
The rosette-forming glioneuronal tumor (RGNT) of the fourth ventricle was recently defined in the
clinicopathologic series of Komori, Scheithauer and Hirose . Two prior case reports by Kuchelmeister
et al.  and Yamane et al.  had emphasized the overlap of some histologic features of this tumor
with the dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor (DNT). However, the series of eleven well-described
cases reported by Komori and colleagues and the latest report by Preusser et al.  make a strong case
for establishing the fourth ventricular RGNT as a distinct entity. Clinically, the tumor affects adults
between the ages 18 and 59 years and a mean age at diagnosis in the early thirties. One patient reported
by Komori and associates was 12 years of age. Headache is the most common presenting symptom and about
half of affected individuals have cerebellar ataxia. Other signs of brainstem dysfunction are not
Imaging studies reveal a midline, fourth ventricular neoplasm that is generally well demarcated from
adjacent structures and shows minimal peritumoral edema. While some tumors in the Komori series were
solid, most were heterogenous with cystic areas and showed only focal contrast enhancement. Obstruction
of the aqueduct of Sylvius is associated with hydrocephalus in some cases. The tumor may occasionally be
. Intraoperatively, the RGNT is soft and gelatinous and typically extends to involve
the adjacent cerebellar tissue.
Histologically, the tumor is composed of two components . The first is a uniform population of
neurocyte-like cells that form perivascular pseudorosettes and neurocytic rosettes. Tumor cells have
scant cytoplasm and round to slightly oval nuclei with finely granular chromatin and inconspicuous
nucleoli. Perinuclear haloes are prominent in some areas and a mucin-like or myxoid change is
characteristic. Separation of the tissue in mucoid areas may produce pseudopapillary arrangements. Rare
ganglion cells are found in the myxoid material. The second histology consists of paucicellular,
bland-appearing astrocytes with background fibrillarity and scattered eosinophilic granular bodies and
Rosenthal fibers. Some areas appear gliotic and contain hemosiderin consistent with remote hemorrhage.
Squash preparations and frozen sections will suggest a low grade astrocytic tumor because of this second
element. There is focal vascular hyalinization and even focal vascular endothelial proliferation.
Mitoses are not identified in either neoplastic element and the Ki67 labeling index is low (around 2%).
The neurocytic element is at least focally immunoreactive for synaptophysin, especially in regions of
perivascular pseudorosettes and within rosette cores. The tumor is strongly and diffusely positive for
S-100 and shows moderate diffuse staining for class III beta tubulin. Neurofilament identifies scattered
axon-like processes in the background while the perinuclear tumor cell cytoplasm is negative. GFAP
identifies delicate tumor cell processes in the background of neurocyte-like areas and is strongly
reactive in astrocytic areas. Chromogranin is negative in the tumor cells. Immunohistochemical studies
help support the diagnosis but familiarity with this entity and its characteristic clinical and
pathologic features will be most useful in arriving at the correct diagnosis.
A histologic resemblance of the RGNT to the DNT has already been mentioned. However, as originally
described, the DNT occurs most commonly in children with clinical histories of complex partial seizures
due to superficial, intracortical temporal lobe tumors . In addition to location, DNTs differ from
RGNTs by their cytoarchitectural complexity, multinodularity, and association with adjacent areas of
cortical dysplasia. A ventricular location for such tumors is exceptional but was observed in three of
four DNTs that arose in the caudate nucleus . With regards to the two cases reported as cerebellar
DNTs, the neoplasm described by Kuchelmeister et al.  arose in the inferior cerebellar vermis and
grew upwards into the deep white matter rather than into the fourth ventricle. The example of Yamane et
al.  was primarily within the fourth ventricle but did not have an astrocytic component.
The differential diagnosis also includes the central neurocytoma . Although such tumors most
typically present as midline, ventricular masses of the cerebrum arising in the region of the septum
pellucidum, extraventricular examples are well described and their occurrence in the posterior fossa has
been reported. In contrast to the RGNT, central neurocytomas are composed of a cytologically uniform
neurocytic element, which bears a striking resemblance to the oligodendroglioma. Reactive-appearing
astrocytes are scattered in the background of central neurocytomas rather than forming a distinct
"second" element. Neurocytic tumors with increased mitotic and Ki67 labeling indices have been referred
to as "atypical neurocytomas" and posterior fossa examples of such tumors have been described
A distinctive rosetted glioneuronal tumor of the cerebrum (also called: "glioneuronal tumor with
neuropil-like islands - GNTI") was initially described by Rosenblum and colleagues  and subsequently
. Despite the similarity in name with the fourth ventricular tumor featured here, the
GNTI presents as a supratentorial, cerebral hemispheric mass is composed primarily of an infiltrating
astrocytomatous element that is focally interrupted by synaptophysin-immunoreactive neuropil-like islands
containing neuronal cells showing variable degrees of differentiation. The GNTI may show proliferative
activity and has a potential for local recurrence and an unfavorable clinical course. One spinal cord
example disseminated in the meninges .
A "papillary glioneuronal tumor" is mentioned for the sake of completeness but all reported cases have
been supratentorial in origin . Finally, it should be remembered that otherwise typical pilocytic
astrocytomas may contain oligodendrocyte-like areas. However, such areas are distinct from neurocytic
elements of the RGNT.
The patient described here was treated with surgery alone and suffered
only minimal residual neurologic deficits. There was no evidence of tumor recurrence a year after gross
total resection. This is consistent with the findings of Komori et al.  in which four patients
recovered fully after surgery alone, six had permanent neurologic deficits but no tumor progression, and
one patient who had undergone radiation therapy died four years after diagnosis.
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