Telomerase activity in ordinary meningiomas predicts poor outcome

Lauren A. Langford, Mieczyslaw A. Piatyszek, Ruishu Xu, S. Clifford Schold, Woodring E. Wright, Jerry W. Shay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Telomerase, the enzyme that stabilizes telomere length, is reactivated with almost all cancer types, and it may be necessary for unlimited cell proliferation. Assessment of malignancy in ordinary meningiomas is inconclusive because no clear-cut correlation exists between aggressive clinical behavior and histological features or karyotypic abnormalities. We analyzed telomerase activity in 52 cases of meningioma by using the highly sensitive telomeric repeat amplification protocol and then compared clinical behavior in telomerase-positive and -negative ordinary meningiomas. Twenty- six of the 52 tumors (50%) had detectable telomerase activity. Twenty-one of the 22 neoplasms classified as malignant or atypical (95%) had detectable telomerase activity, and these tumors generally had a poor outcome. Interestingly, 5 of 30 ordinary (morphologically benign) meningiomas (17%) also showed detectable telomerase activity. Of the 5 patients with telomerase-positive ordinary meningiomas, 3 had rapid regrowth of the tumor despite gross total resection. The remaining 2 patients also had other primary malignancies. We observed a highly significant correlation in ordinary meningiomas between the presence of telomerase activity and a poor prognosis for the patient (P = .0002). Telomerase activity in benign meningiomas is clinically relevant because the presence of the enzyme suggests that these benign-appearing tumors may contain a population of immortal cells. The detection of telomerase activity may help to identify benign meningiomas that would be more likely to continue to grow and to recur clinically if surgical resection were incomplete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-420
Number of pages5
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997


  • immortality
  • meningioma
  • proliferation
  • telomerase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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