Molecular Pathology and Targeted Therapies for Personalized Management of Central Nervous System Germinoma

Cristina Ilcus, Horatiu Silaghi, Carmen Emanuela Georgescu, Carmen Georgiu, Anca Ileana Ciurea, Simona Delia Nicoara, Cristina Alina Silaghi
Journal of Personalized Medicine 2021 July 14, 11 (7)
Intracranial germinomas are rare tumours, usually affecting male paediatric patients. They frequently develop in the pineal and suprasellar regions, causing endocrinological disturbances, visual deficits, and increased intracranial pressure. The diagnosis is established on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers, and tumour stereotactic biopsy. Imaging techniques, such as susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI), T2* (T2-star) gradient echo (GRE) or arterial spin labelling based perfusion-weighted MRI (ASL-PWI) facilitate the diagnosis. Germinomas are highly radiosensitive tumours, with survival rates >90% in the context of chemoradiotherapy. However, patients with resistant disease have limited therapeutic options and poor survival. The aim of this review is to highlight the genetic, epigenetic, and immunologic features, which could provide the basis for targeted therapy. Intracranial germinomas present genetic and epigenetic alterations (chromosomal aberrations, KIT , MAPK and PI3K pathways mutations, DNA hypomethylation, miRNA dysregulation) that may represent targets for therapy. Tyrosine kinase and mTOR inhibitors warrant further investigation in these cases. Immune markers, PD-1 (programmed cell death protein 1) and PD-L1 (programmed death-ligand 1), are expressed in germinomas, representing potential targets for immune checkpoint inhibitors. Resistant cases should benefit from a personalized management: genetic and immunological testing and enrolment in trials evaluating targeted therapies in intracranial germinomas.

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