Optic pathway glioma (OPG) occurs in as many as one-fifth of individuals with the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) cancer predisposition syndrome. Generally considered low-grade and slow growing, many children with NF1-OPGs remain asymptomatic. However, due to their location within the optic pathway, ~20-30% of those harboring NF1-OPGs will experience symptoms, including progressive vision loss, proptosis, diplopia, and precocious puberty. While treatment with conventional chemotherapy is largely effective at attenuating tumor growth, it is not clear whether there is much long-term recovery of visual function. Additionally, because these tumors predominantly affect young children, there are unique challenges to NF1-OPG diagnosis, monitoring, and longitudinal management. Over the past two decades, the employment of authenticated genetically engineered Nf1-OPG mouse models have provided key insights into the function of the NF1 protein, neurofibromin, as well as the molecular and cellular pathways that contribute to optic gliomagenesis. Findings from these studies have resulted in the identification of new molecular targets whose inhibition blocks murine Nf1-OPG growth in preclinical studies. Some of these promising compounds have now entered into early clinical trials. Future research focused on defining the determinants that underlie optic glioma initiation, expansion, and tumor-induced optic nerve injury will pave the way to personalized risk assessment strategies, improved tumor monitoring, and optimized treatment plans for children with NF1-OPG.
- genetically engineered mouse models
- neurofibromatosis type 1
- optic glioma
- vision loss