Aims The zinc finger transcription factor WT1 is expressed in astrocytic neoplasms and therefore is a potential target of immunotherapy in brain tumours. Our aim was to further elucidate the role of WT1 as a diagnostic and prognostic marker in neuropathology, particularly as to the differentiation of astrocytoma from oligodendroglioma as well as to the dependency of WT1 expression on clinically relevant parameters.
Methods 829 evaluable brain tumour samples were investigated by WT1 immunohistochemistry on full tissue routine slides, consisting of 442 glioblastomas, 303 astrocytomas, 41 oligodendrogliomas and 43 oligoastrocytomas. In addition public WT1 gene expression data of 351 gliomas were analysed.
Results Our data show that WT1 expression in diffuse astrocytic tumours increases with WHO tumour grade and is associated with older age, absence of IDH1 mutation but not related to O(6)- methyl guanine methyl transferase (MGMT) promoter methylation status. Univariable, but not multivariable survival analysis indicates that WT1 expression is associated with worse outcome in patients with diffuse astrocytoma but not glioblastoma.
Conclusions The significant WT1 expression differences between diffuse astrocytomas, oligoastrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas, which are also present in the Repository for Molecular Brain Neoplasia Data, National Cancer Institute (REMBRANDT, 2005, http://rembrandt.nci.nih.gov) gene database set, provide a rationale for use of WT1 as part of a routine immunohistochemistry panel.
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