Dysembryoplastic Neuroepithelial Tumors: What You Need to Know

Sabino Luzzi, Angela Elia, Mattia Del Maestro, Samer K. Elbabaa, Sergio Carnevale, Francesco Guerrini, Massimo Caulo, Patrizia Morbini, Renato Galzio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: An updated and comprehensive review on dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor (DNET) focusing on differential diagnosis, atypical presentation, seizure outcome, and risk of malignant transformation. Methods: A PubMed/MEDLINE-based literature search has been performed using “dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor” as a keyword. Two treated cases characterized by an atypical presentation have been reviewed. Results: Of 1162 articles, 200 relevant studies have been selected. DNET is a benign mixed neuronal-glial tumor causing drug-resistant epilepsy primarily in children and young adults. The typical radiological pattern is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) T1-hypointense, T2-, and fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery hyperintense multicystic lesion involving the cerebral cortex with no edema. Contrast enhancement may be present and a focal cortical dysplasia is commonly associated with it. MRI diffusion, perfusion, and spectroscopy have a paramount role in the differential diagnosis. The “specific glioneuronal elements” are pathognomonic. They are positive for S100 protein, synaptofisin, neuronal nuclei, oligodendrocyte transcription factor, neurite outgrowth inhibitor, and microtubule-associated protein 2, but negative for glial fibrillary acidic protein. As opposed to v-myb avian myeloblastosis viral oncogene homolog, isocitrate dehydrogenase-1/isocitrate dehydrogenase-2 mutation and codeletion 1p-19q, fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 and BRAF V600E mutations are present. The effectiveness of surgery on seizure outcome has been established. Rare malignant transformations have been reported, especially in extra-temporal and complex forms. Conclusions: Advanced MRI techniques are fundamental in the differential diagnosis for DNET versus other low-grade gliomas. Immuno-phenotype assessment and search for fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 and BRAF V600E mutations limit the risk of misdiagnoses. A gross total tumor removal is generally associated with a seizure-free outcome. Recurrences and malignant transformations may rarely follow, legitimizing MRI surveillance in cases of subtotal tumor resection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-265
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019


  • BRAF
  • Brain neoplasm
  • Diffusion-weighted MRI
  • DNET
  • Drug-resistant epilepsy
  • MR spectroscopy
  • Neuroepithelial tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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