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NF Center Trainee Publishes World’s Largest Study on Brainstem Tumors in Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1)

Location of brainstem gliomas in individuals with neurofibromatosis type 1

Children with NF1 are at risk for developing brain tumors, which most commonly are located within the optic pathway, the nerves that carry vision from the eye to the brain. In addition, these kids are also prone to develop brain tumors involving another region of the brain, called the brainstem. The brainstem connects the brain to the spinal cord, as well as contains a number of important nerves that control the eyes, face and neck.

While much is known about optic pathway gliomas (OPGs) in NF1, comparatively less is known about NF1-associated brainstem gliomas (BSGs). To learn more about these tumors, Dr. Jasia Mahdi and her colleagues in the Washington University NF Center worked with investigators at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC.

In the resulting study, published in the journal Neurology, Dr. Mahdi, a pediatric neurology trainee at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, reported on 133 children with NF1-BSG. She found that these children tend to be older than those who have OPG, and most had no clinical symptoms as a result of their tumor. However, those who required treatment for their BSG tended to have particular features on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

We congratulate Dr. Mahdi and her colleagues on this landmark study.


Mahdi J, Shah AC, Sato A, Morris SM, McKinstry RC, Listernick R, Packer RJ, Fisher MJ, Gutmann DH. A multi institutional study of brainstem gliomas in children with neurofibromatosis type 1. Neurology. 2017 Apr 18;88(16):1584-1589. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003881. Epub 2017 Mar 22. PMID: 28330960.