Telomerase activity in microdissected human gliomas

Robert J. Weil, Yan Yun Wu, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Young Wan Moon, Rosario M. Delgado, Brian G. Fuller, Russell R. Lonser, Alan T. Remaley, Zhengping Zhuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Future improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of human gliomas might rely on obtaining more specific information concerning the biologic characteristics of individual tumor cells. Telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein that synthesizes telomeres, has been reported to be expressed in a majority of human tumors, including several subtypes of brain tumor. We hypothesized that a quantitative assay for telomerase activity, combined with selective microdissection of tumor or normal brain cells, might reveal telomerase gain- of-function to be important in the pathogenesis of gliomas and that telomerase levels might have prognostic significance. We used tissue microdissection for selective analysis of tumor cells obtained from eight patients with glioma, one with a meningioma, and one with a primary B-cell lymphoma of the central nervous system. Normal brain tissue microdissected from another patient was used as a control. Telomerase activity was screened by an electrophoretic method and then assayed by a quantitative ELISA method. All of the eight gliomas had positive telomerase activity, as did the lymphoma. The meningioma and normal brain were negative. Quantitative analysis of telomerase activity did not correlate with tumor grade nor predict outcome. Selective tissue microdissection, combined with qualitative and quantitative telomerase assays, permits rapid and reliable detection of telomerase activity in diverse brain tumor tissues. These preliminary findings suggest that telomerase reactivation is a frequent event in glioma tumorigenesis that can be sensitively and specifically detected in gliomas of all histologic grades. Furthermore, specific detection of telomerase reactivation represents another mechanism by which tumor formation and progression might become the target of novel therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-46
Number of pages6
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytoma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • Meningioma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Telomere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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