Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 5797–5803 | Cite as

Ultrastructural changes of mitochondria in human retinoblastoma: correlation with tumor differentiation and invasiveness

  • Lata Singh
  • Tapas C. Nag
  • Seema Kashyap
Original Article


Retinoblastoma still represents a challenge for pediatric tumors. Mitochondria have been implicated in tumor progression, cell differentiation, and apoptotic pathways. Electron microscopy allows the study of mitochondrial morphology and it is still debated in human retinoblastoma. Demographic, clinical, and histopathological parameters were recorded in 17 enucleated retinoblastoma specimens. Hematoxylin and eosin staining was performed to study tumor characteristics and the extent of invasion in ocular structures. The aim of this study was to describe and analyze the mitochondrial morphology in human retinoblastoma by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). There was a male preponderance in our study. Ages ranged from 2 to 78 months. Histopathological analysis revealed that 15 (88.2 %) tumors were poorly differentiated retinoblastomas. Massive choroidal invasion was the most frequent histopathological high-risk factor among the others. Histopathological high-risk factors were found in 7/17 (41.1 %) cases. Tumor samples of all patients were examined by means of TEM. All cases showed tumor cells with high nucleocytoplasmic ratio. Poorly differentiated retinoblastoma cases showed fewer mitochondria, scant cytoplasm, disorganized organelles (mitochondria), and necrosis, whereas well-differentiated retinoblastomas had larger number of mitochondria and more organized organelles. However, there was no significant difference in mitochondrial changes between invasive and noninvasive tumors. Our study observed that cristolysis and swollen mitochondria were more frequent in retinoblastoma tumors. Understanding the structural and functional characteristics of mitochondria in retinoblastoma might be essential for the design of future therapeutic strategies. The authors have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.


Retinoblastoma Transmission electron microscopy Mitochondria Cancer 



We are very grateful to Mr. Feeroj Ahamad Chauhan for his excellent technical assistance. LS was supported by CSIR-Senior Research Fellowship.

Compliance with ethical standards

This study was approved by our institutional ethics committee, AIIMS, New Delhi, and an informed consent was obtained. The work was conducted within the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ocular Pathology, Dr. R. P. Centre for Ophthalmic SciencesAll India Institute of Medical SciencesNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Department of AnatomyAll India Institute of Medical SciencesNew DelhiIndia

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