Retinoblastoma co-repressor 1 (RB) and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor (CDKN) as a multi-gene panel for differentiating pulmonary from non-pulmonary origin in metastatic neuroendocrine carcinomas

Kritika Krishnamurthy, Mike Cusnir, Michael Schwartz, Vathany Sriganeshan, Robert J Poppiti
Pathology, Research and Practice 2020, 216 (9): 153051

BACKGROUND: Neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) arise from neuroendocrine cells present throughout the body, and often present with metastases even with small and undetectable primary tumors. Additionally, neuroendocrine differentiation can be seen in carcinomas of non-neuroendocrine origin further complicating the landscape of metastatic NECs. Organ specific immunohistochemical markers such as TTF1, CDX2 and PAX8 are often lost in high grade tumors and may be non-contributory in localizing the primary site. Though NECs share a common cellular origin, they exhibit great variability in biologic behavior, prognosis and treatment based on the primary organ of origin.

DESIGN: Twenty one cases of metastatic NECs were retrieved from our archives and were classified based on location of the primary tumor derived from clinical and radiological findings. Next generation sequencing data was retrieved and analyzed for recurrent genetic abnormalities in these cases. Statistical analysis was performed using IBM SPSS25 software.

RESULTS: RB1 mutations were exclusive to NECs metastasizing from lung primary and were detected in 5 of 12 (41.6 %) cases (p = 0.04). CDKN gene family (CDKN1B and 2 A) mutations were limited to metatstatic NECs of non-pulmonary origin and were detected in 4 of 9 (44.4 %) cases (p = 0.02).

CONCLUSION: The location of the primary tumor in metastatic NECs appears to have significant prognostic and therapeutic implications. But due to the morphological homogeneity, higher grade of tumor, variable sensitivity of immunohistochemical markers, and small, often undetectable primary tumors, the localization of the primary tumor in cases of metastatic NECs is a challenge. In this study, RB1 and CDKN gene family mutations are identified as possible markers for differentiating pulmonary and non-pulmonary origin in metatstatic NECs.

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