SMARCB1 Deficiency in Tumors From the Peripheral Nervous System: A Link Between Schwannomas and Rhabdoid Tumors?

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Background:Inactivation of SMARCB1 tumor-suppressor gene was originally described as highly specific for rhabdoid tumors (RTs). Nevertheless, recent reports have illustrated that SMARCB1 alterations also characterize other tumors; in particular, some familial schwannomatosis and epithelioid malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, both from peripheral nervous system (PNS) origin, lack BAF47 expression. To document the putative role of SMARCB1 in PNS, we reviewed PNS tumors referred to our institution for a molecular analysis of SMARCB1 because of histologic features compatible with RT.Methods:Clinicopathologic, radiologic, and molecular characteristics were detailed for the 12 cases showing loss of expression and/or biallelic inactivation of SMARCB1. The status of the NF2 gene, likely to synergize with SMARCB1 in PNS tumors, was also analyzed.Results:Patients’ age ranged from 0 to 45 years (median age, 6.6 y). Neurological symptoms were observed in 7/12 cases with radiologic features evoking a neuroblastic tumor in 6 cases and a peripheral nerve tumor in 4 cases. The mean delay before diagnosis was 3 months. Histologic examination revealed rhabdoid features in 11/12 tumors. All tumors showed a complete loss of SMARCB1 expression. Interestingly, adjacent nervous proliferation resembling neurofibromas were observed in 3 cases, suggesting a multistep transformation. Three tumors harbored a hemizygous deletion at the NF2 locus, but all NF2 sequences were normal.Conclusions:We report the first series of PNS RT. In patients with aggressive PNS tumors, RT should be suspected, and anti-SMARCB1 immunohistochemical analysis should be performed. SMARCB1 inactivation, occasionally associated with NF2 deletion, might have oncogenic effects in peripheral nerves.

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