Intravascular thrombosis in central nervous system malignancies: A potential role in astrocytoma progression to glioblastoma

Mahtab Tehrani, Theodore M. Friedman, Jeffrey J. Olson, Daniel J. Brat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The presence of necrosis within a diffuse glioma is a powerful predictor of poor prognosis, yet little is known of its origins. Intravascular thrombosis is a frequent finding in glioblastoma [GBM; World Health Organization (WHO) grade IV] specimens and could potentially be involved in astrocytoma progression to GBM or represent a surrogate marker of GBM histology. We investigated whether intravascular thrombosis was more frequent or prominent in GBM than other central nervous system (CNS) malignancies and considered its prognostic significance in anaplastic astrocytoma (AA; WHO grade III), which lacks necrosis. Histologic sections were examined for thrombosis, necrosis and microvascular hyperplasia from each of 297 CNS tumors, including 103 GBMs, 46 AAs, 20 diffuse astrocytoma (DAs; WHO grade II), eight anaplastic oligodendrogliomas (AOs; WHO grade III), 20 oligodendrogliomas (ODs; WHO grade II), 49 metastatic carcinomas (METs), 31 primary central nervous system lymphomas (PCNSLs) and 20 medulloblastomas (MBs). Among newly diagnosed tumors, thrombosis was present in 92% of GBM resections, significantly greater than other types of CNS malignancies. Of tumors with thrombosis, GBMs had a higher frequency of affected vessels than AAs, DAs, AOs, ODs and MBs, but had a frequency similar to METs and PCNSLs. The sensitivity of thrombosis for the diagnosis of GBM in this set of tumors was 92% and the specificity was 91%. Intravascular thrombosis was uncommon in AAs and was only noted in stereotactic biopsies. This subset of patients had shorter survivals than those AAs without thrombosis. Thus, intravascular thrombosis is more frequent in GBM than other CNS malignancies. When present in AAs, it appears to indicate aggressive clinical behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-171
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Astrocytoma
  • Brain tumor
  • Glioblastoma
  • Hypoxia
  • Necrosis
  • Thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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