Desmin-positivity in spindle cells: Under-recognized immunophenotype of lipoblastoma

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Lipoblastoma is a distinct benign fatty tumor composed of adipocytes, lipoblasts, and primitive mesenchymal cells with a myxoid stroma. Lipoblastoma harbors characteristic fusion genes involving thePLAG1,resulting in aberrant expression of PLAG1. However, the nature of the primitive mesenchymal cells remains obscure. In our routine pathology practice, we noticed desmin-positive spindle mesenchymal cells in lipoblastomas, which is a hitherto poorly described phenomenon. Thus, we examined the expression of several myogenic markers including desmin in a variety of 95 mesenchymal tumors with fatty elements. Fourteen of the 15 lipoblastomas examined contained desmin-positive spindle cells, which also showed nuclear expression of PLAG1, whereas α-smooth muscle actin, muscle specific actin,h-caldesmon, and myogenin were negative. Some spindle cells in subsets of atypical lipomatous tumors/well differentiated liposarcomas (6/20), dedifferentiated liposarcomas (11/31) and pleomorphic liposarcomas (2/10) were positive for actins and/or desmin, supporting focal myofibroblastic or smooth muscle differentiation. The other tumors, including 11 myxoid/round cell liposarcomas, four spindle cell lipomas, and four lipofibromatoses, were negative for all of the myogenic markers assessed. The almost consistent desmin expression in spindle mesenchymal cells suggests a potential diagnostic utility of this marker and myofibroblastic phenotype of fractions in lipoblastoma cells.

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