Identification of genetic risk factors for cerebellar mutism in pediatric brain tumor patients

Darryl Nousome, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Following posterior fossa surgery for resection of childhood medulloblastoma and primitive neuroectodermal tumor (M/PNET), cerebellar mutism (CM) may develop. This is a condition of absent or diminished speech in a conscious patient with no evidence of oral apraxia, which can be accompanied by other symptoms of the posterior fossa syndrome complex, which includes ataxia and hypotonia. Little is known about the etiology. Therefore, we conducted a SNP, gene, and pathway-level analysis to assess the role of host genetic variation on the risk of CM in M/PNET subjects following treatment. Cases (n= 20) and controls (n= 53) were recruited from the Childhood Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Center, in Houston, TX. DNA samples were genotyped using the Illumina Human 1M Quad SNP chip. Ten pathways were identified from logistic regression used to identify the marginal effect of each SNP on CM risk. The minP test was conducted to identify associations between SNPs categorized to genes and CM risk. Pathways were assessed to determine if there was a significant enrichment of genes in the pathway compared to all other pathways. There were 78 genes that reached the threshold of min P ≤0.05 in 948 genes. The Neurotoxicity pathway was the most significant pathway after adjusting for multiple comparisons (q=0.040 and q=0.005, using Fisher's exact test and a test of proportions, respectively). Most genes within the Neurotoxicity pathway that reached a threshold of minP ≤0.05 were known to have an apoptosis function, possibly inducing neuronal apoptosis in the dentatothalamocortical pathway, and may be important in CM etiology in this population. This is the first study to assess the potential role of genetic risk factors on CM. As an exploratory study, these results should be replicated in a larger sample.

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Recommended Citation

Nousome, Darryl, "Identification of genetic risk factors for cerebellar mutism in pediatric brain tumor patients" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1529224.