Immunohistochemical evaluation of H3K27 trimethylation in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors

Hiroshi Otsuka, Kenichi Kohashi, Masato Yoshimoto, Shin Ishihara, Yu Toda, Yuichi Yamada, Hidetaka Yamamoto, Yasuharu Nakashima, Yoshinao Oda
Pathology, Research and Practice 2018, 214 (3): 417-425
The histological definitive diagnosis of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) is quite difficult because the morphological features are not specific and no useful immunohistochemical marker has been identified. Loss-of-function mutations in EED or SUZ12, which encode the core subunit of polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), were reported in MPNSTs, and the mutations were shown to cause inactivation of PRC2, leading to loss of trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27me3). Immunohistochemistry of H3K27me3 is expected to be a specific marker for MPNSTs. We evaluated immunohistochemical expression of H3K27me3 in MPNSTs with heterologous components and metachronous cases of MPNSTs. Among 145 MPNST samples, 50 (34.5%) showed complete loss of staining, and 45 (31.0%) showed partial loss of staining. Regarding the backgrounds of MPNSTs, 43 patients of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1)-associated MPNST demonstrated 19 (44.2%) complete and 12 (27.9%) partial loss of H3K27me3. Among MPNSTs with heterologous component, almost all of MPNSTs with epithelioid differentiation (8/9 samples, 88.9%) retained H3K27me3, and malignant Triton tumors without epithelioid component lacked H3K27me3 at high rate (91.7%). Five of 20 metachronous MPNST cases showed significantly reduced expression of H3K27me3 between primary and later-occurring tumors, but in some cases increased expression of H3K27me3 in the clinical course (such as complete loss to partial loss) was observed. If the tumors are recurrent or metastatic, H3K27me3 expression should be reduced or at least maintained because loss of H3K27me3 is due to genetic mutation of EED or SUZ12. MPNSTs, especially those associated with NF-1, can occur in heterochronous and multiple patterns, and the identification of increased expression of H3K27me3 during a patient's clinical course can be helpful for determining whether the tumors are heterochronous, multiple or not. As heterochronous and multiple tumors may show lower malignancy compared to recurrent or metastatic tumors, favorable prognosis may be expected when H3K27me3 expression is increased.

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