Phenotypic Intratumoral Heterogeneity of Endometrial Carcinomas

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Intratumoral heterogeneity has been shown to play an important role in diagnostic accuracy, development of treatment resistance, and prognosis of cancer patients. Recent studies have proposed quantitative measurement of phenotypic intratumoral heterogeneity, but no study is yet available in endometrial carcinomas. In our study we evaluated the phenotypic intratumoral heterogeneity of a consecutive series of 10 endometrial carcinomas using measures of dispersion and diversity. Morphometric architectural (%tumor cells, %solid tumor, %differentiated tumor, and %lumens) and nuclear [volume-weighted mean nuclear volume ()] parameters, as well as estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, p53, vimentin, and beta-catenin immunoexpression (H-score) were digitally analyzed in 20 microscopic fields per carcinoma. Quantitative measures of intratumoral heterogeneity included coefficient of variation (CV) and relative quadratic entropy (rQE). In each endometrial carcinoma there was slight variation of architecture from field to field, resulting in globally low levels of heterogeneity measures (mean CV %tumor cells: 0.10, %solid tumor: 0.73, %differentiated tumor: 0.19, %lumens: 0.61 and mean rQE %tumor cells: 18.5, %solid tumor: 20.3, %differentiated tumor: 25.6, %lumens: 21.8). Nuclear intratumoral heterogeneity was also globally low (mean CV: 0.23 and rQE: 27.3), but significantly higher than the heterogeneity of architectural parameters within most carcinomas. In general, there was low to moderate variability of immunoexpression markers within each carcinoma, but estrogen receptor (mean CV: 0.56 and rQE: 46.2) and progesterone receptor (mean CV: 0.60 and rQE: 39.3) displayed the highest values of heterogeneity measures. Intratumoral heterogeneity of immunoexpression was significantly higher than that observed for morphometric parameters. In conclusion, our study indicates that endometrial carcinomas present a variable but predominantly low degree of phenotypic intratumoral heterogeneity.

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