Ultrastructural characterization of oligodendroglial-like cells in central nervous system tumors

G. Cenacchi, F. Giangaspero, S. Cerasoli, V. Manetto, G. N. Martinelli

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Cells with uniform, small-round nucleus and clear cytoplasm (oligodendroglial-like cell, OLC) are commonly observed in central nervous system (CNS) neoplasm of glial and neuronal lineage, such as oligodendroglioma, clear-cell ependymoma, and central neurocytoma. Immunohistochemistry does not always contribute to the characterization of OLC because of (1) loss of antigen expression; (2) lack of specific markers for oligodendrogliomas; and (3) occasional coexpression of neuronal and glial antigens. An ultrastructural analysis associated with an immunohistochemical study of 20 cases of CNS tumors largely constituted by OLCs has been performed. Neurocytomas (12 cases), medullocytomas (2 cases), cerebral neuroblastoma (1 case), and ganglioglioma (1 case) showed OLCs with ultrastructural features of neuronal differentiation (neuritic processes, dense-core granules, synaptic structures). Oligodendroglioma (3 cases) OLCs were characterized by mitochondrial-rich cytoplasm, and ependymoma (1 case) OLCs showed microrosettes and scattered cilia. The electron microscopic analysis can provide a more precise diagnosis of these OLC-containing tumors despite their uniform morphological appearance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-547
Number of pages11
JournalUltrastructural Pathology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Central nenous sysfem tumors
  • Electron microscopy
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Oligodendroglial-like cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Instrumentation
  • Structural Biology

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