The Use of Smoothelin and Other Antibodies in the Diagnosis of Uterine and Soft Tissue Smooth Muscle Tumors

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Smoothelin is a cytoplasmic protein expressed in differentiated smooth muscle cells. Immunohistochemical evaluation of smoothelin has previously been reported in gastrointestinal (GI) smooth muscle tumors, but has yet to be studied in smooth muscle tumors of uterine and other soft tissue origin. DOG1 expression is reported to be specific for GI stromal tumors; however, variable expression has been reported in leiomyosarcomas (LMS) depending on site of origin. Overexpression of p16 is common in LMS of uterine and other sites of origin, but has not been correlated with tumor grade. This study explores the differential expression of these markers, as well as caldesmon, in LMS cases to assess diagnostic utility. Using tissue microarrays and cases from Tulane Medical Center and Medical College of Wisconsin, expression of smoothelin, DOG1, caldesmon, and p16 was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 87 cases of LMS. The cases were subdivided by location of origin into uterine (N=31) and nonuterine (N=56) with 10 of the nonuterine of GI origin, as well as by grade into low grade (N=27) and intermediate and high grade (N=60). Differential expression among different grades and locations was evaluated. The same markers were evaluated in atypical leiomyoma cases (N=4) and 1 smooth muscle tumor of uncertain malignant potential case (N=1). Smoothelin expression was also assessed in 20 benign uterine leiomyomas. Weak DOG1 expression is rare but possible in extrauterine LMS. Expression of p16 is common in both uterine and extrauterine LMS, and more frequent in higher grades. Expression of smoothelin in this study differed depending on tumor type, grade, and site of origin. All leiomyomas and most atypical leiomyomas showed cytoplasmic positivity for smoothelin, whereas only 5% of LMS had cytoplasmic expression. The study suggests smoothelin may be downregulated in the cytoplasm of malignant smooth muscle tumor cells and may serve as a supportive aid in the distinction of LMS from benign smooth muscle tumors in cases where it is difficult by morphology alone.

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