The study of CD117 expression in glial tumorsand its relationship with the tumor-type and grade

Parvin Mahzouni, Mohsen Jafari


  • BACKGROUND: CD117 is a thyrosin kinase receptor encoded by c-kit proto-oncogene. It is expressed during normal development in some tissues and also in a subset of neoplasia especially gastrointestinal stromal tumors  (GISTs). Treatment with thyrosin kinase inhibitors (e.g., Imatinib) is useful in CD117- positive GISTs. The goal of this study is to investigate the expression of CD117 in glial tumors as a potential diagnostic marker and target for therapy.
  • METHODS: in this descriptive-analytical study, paraffin- embedded tissue blocks from 50 cases of glial tumors (various histological types and grades) were selected in a convenience sampling for the CD117 immunhistochemical study including expression of the marker, staining intensity, and percentage of the stained cells. The results were analyzed by chi-square and Mann–Whitney tests.
  • RESULTS: CD117 expression was detected in about 76% of glial tumors but the frequency of the expression showed no statistically significant relationship with the tumor type (p = 0.829). Although CD117 immunoreactivity was more frequent  in high-grade tumors  (84%) compared  to the low-grade ones (68%), no statistically significant relationship was found between the CD117 expression and grade of the tumor (p = 0.09). Staining intensity and percentage of stained cells in high-grade tumors were significantly more than in low-grade tumors (p-values of 0.046 and 0.023, respectively).
  • CONCLUSIONS: according to the statistically significant difference in the staining intensity and percentage of the stained cells between the low-grade and high-grade glial tumors, these two parameters may be useful for making distinction  between various grades of these tumors. Moreover, according to the prominent expression of CD117 in high-grade gliomas, these tumors  may be potential candidates for treatment with thyrosin kinase inhibitors.
  • KEYWORDS: CD117, Glial Tumors, Immunohistochemical Staining, Tumor Grade


glial tumors, CD117, immunohistochemical staining, tumor grade

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