Diffuse astrocytoma NOS ("protoplasmic")

Case contributed by A.Prof Frank Gaillard



Patient Data

Age: 35 years
Gender: Male

MRI Brain

A large right temporal lobe mass is present without convincing enhancement. The central portions are of very high T2 signal and attenuate on FLAIR in an ill defined fashion (not cystic). 

MR specroscopy demonstrates elevation of Choline and Myo-inositol.

Case Discussion

The patient went on to have a craniotomy and excision.


MICROSCOPIC DESCRIPTION: The sections show a moderately cellular glial tumor with a proliferation of mainly protoplasmic astrocytes with some intermixed fibrillary astrocytes. The protoplasmic astrocytes have enlarged round nuclei and short GFAP+ cytoplasmic processes in a background of prominent microcystic change. The fibrillary astrocytes appear more elongated and angulated. The tumor extends to involve the cerebral cortex. Sparse mitoses are seen (0-1 per 10 high power fields). There is no endothelial cell hyperplasia or necrosis. The overall features are those of diffuse astrocytoma (predominantly protoplasmic type). The Ki-67 index is about 3-4%. p53 is diffusely positive.

DIAGNOSIS: Diffuse astrocytoma of predominantly protoplasmic type (WHO grade II).

Note: IDH mutation status is not provided in this case and according to the current (2016) WHO classification of CNS tumors, this tumor would, therefore, be designated as a diffuse astrocytoma NOS.


This case illustrates very typical appearances of protoplasmic astrocytomas, a somewhat less common variant of diffuse low grade gliomas. 

Until recently, protoplasmic astrocytomas were classified as a subtype low-grade astrocytoma, however, in the latest (2016) update to WHO classification of CNS tumors, protoplasmic astrocytomas no longer exists as a distinct entity. 


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Case information

rID: 23674
Published: 2nd Jul 2013
Last edited: 16th Jul 2018
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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