Detecting Malignant Brain Tumor Cells in the Bloodstream During Surgery to Remove the Tumor

2014-08-27 03:59:43 | BioPortfolio


Glioblastomas, the most frequent malignant brain tumor in adults, are widespread in the brain, despite their discrete appearance on computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). While this tumor tends to spread widely in the brain, unlike other tumors of the body, it rarely metastasizes, or spreads, to other organs. Approximately 10 percent of patients with glioblastoma develop metastatic disease after radiation or brain surgery. In the absence of radiation or brain surgery, few patients have developed disease spread outside the brain.

During surgery to remove tumors of other organs of the body, such as the lung, prostate, kidney, or ovary, cells from these tumors are routinely found in the bloodstream. These cells are believed to be the reason for the spread of these tumors. In the case of malignant brain tumors, this process of glioma (tumor) cells shedding into circulation has not yet been investigated.

This study will determine whether glioma cells can be detected in the bloodstream of patients undergoing surgery. If glioma cells are absent, it may mean they are unable to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. If they are present, they presumably can penetrate into blood vessels but they may be recognized and eliminated by the immune system, or they may escape detection yet not be able to take hold in the new microenvironment. The results of the study will add to the knowledge of the biology of these highly malignant tumors.

Study participants will be admitted to the hospital for 8 to 10 days. They will undergo a complete physical and neurological exam and blood and urine tests. An electrocardiogram will be performed, and x-rays may be taken. On the morning of surgery, the patient will receive sedation intravenously. A tiny plastic tube called a catheter will be introduced into a vein in the groin through needles. The catheter will be passed through to the jugular bulb, right above the jugular vein, on the same side as the tumor. The patient will then be taken to the operating room for surgery. During surgery, not more than one quarter of a unit of blood will be removed through the catheter. The catheter will be removed before the patient enters the intensive care unit. Another MRI will be taken after surgery.

The study will enroll participants for 2 years. Patients will be followed at 3 months and 6 months after the surgery to make sure the postoperative period is uneventful.


Glioblastomas are the most frequent malignant brain tumor in adults and are widespread in the brain despite their discrete appearance on CT or MRI. While locally aggressive, metastasis of glioblastoma to extracranial organs is considered rare. Approximately 10% of patients with glioblastoma develop metastatic disease after radiation or craniotomy. Few patients have developed extracranial metastatic disease in the absence of surgical resection or radiation. Unlike tumors of other organs such as lung, colon and prostate, the presence of glioma cells in the circulation of patients undergoing surgical resection has not been established. If found absent, glioma cells may be unable to intravasate through the blood brain barrier. If present, these tumor cells presumably can intravasate but may be recognized and eliminated by an immunological process, or they may escape detection yet not be able to take hold in the new microenvironment. The information provided will add to the knowledge of the biology of these highly malignant tumors.

Study Design





National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
United States




National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:59:43-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

A malignant form of astrocytoma histologically characterized by pleomorphism of cells, nuclear atypia, microhemorrhage, and necrosis. They may arise in any region of the central nervous system, with a predilection for the cerebral hemispheres, basal ganglia, and commissural pathways. Clinical presentation most frequently occurs in the fifth or sixth decade of life with focal neurologic signs or seizures.

Primary or metastatic neoplasms of the CEREBELLUM. Tumors in this location frequently present with ATAXIA or signs of INTRACRANIAL HYPERTENSION due to obstruction of the fourth ventricle. Common primary cerebellar tumors include fibrillary ASTROCYTOMA and cerebellar HEMANGIOBLASTOMA. The cerebellum is a relatively common site for tumor metastases from the lung, breast, and other distant organs. (From Okazaki & Scheithauer, Atlas of Neuropathology, 1988, p86 and p141)

Benign and malignant central nervous system neoplasms derived from glial cells (i.e., astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and ependymocytes). Astrocytes may give rise to astrocytomas (ASTROCYTOMA) or glioblastoma multiforme (see GLIOBLASTOMA). Oligodendrocytes give rise to oligodendrogliomas (OLIGODENDROGLIOMA) and ependymocytes may undergo transformation to become EPENDYMOMA; CHOROID PLEXUS NEOPLASMS; or colloid cysts of the third ventricle. (From Escourolle et al., Manual of Basic Neuropathology, 2nd ed, p21)

Neoplasms of the brain and spinal cord derived from glial cells which vary from histologically benign forms to highly anaplastic and malignant tumors. Fibrillary astrocytomas are the most common type and may be classified in order of increasing malignancy (grades I through IV). In the first two decades of life, astrocytomas tend to originate in the cerebellar hemispheres; in adults, they most frequently arise in the cerebrum and frequently undergo malignant transformation. (From Devita et al., Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, 5th ed, pp2013-7; Holland et al., Cancer Medicine, 3d ed, p1082)

Benign and malignant neoplasms which occur within the substance of the spinal cord (intramedullary neoplasms) or in the space between the dura and spinal cord (intradural extramedullary neoplasms). The majority of intramedullary spinal tumors are primary CNS neoplasms including ASTROCYTOMA; EPENDYMOMA; and LIPOMA. Intramedullary neoplasms are often associated with SYRINGOMYELIA. The most frequent histologic types of intradural-extramedullary tumors are MENINGIOMA and NEUROFIBROMA.

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