Head and Neck Mesenchymal Neoplasms With GLI1 Gene Alterations: A Pathologic Entity With Distinct Histologic Features and Potential for Distant Metastasis

May 20, 2020 | Histopathology

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Soft tissue tumors with GLI1 gene fusions or amplifications have been recently described as a unique pathologic entity with an established risk of malignancy. We herein expand these findings by investigating a cohort of 11 head and neck lesions with GLI1 alterations, including 8 from the tongue, for their clinicopathologic and molecular features. The tumors commonly affected males in their 30s (male:female ratio 2.7:1; range: 1 to 65). Tumors showed a multinodular growth pattern, nested architecture separated by a delicate, arborizing vascular network, monotonous round to ovoid nuclei, and clear cytoplasm. Tumor protrusion into vascular spaces was common. Genetic alterations were investigated by fluorescence in situ hybridization and/or targeted RNA sequencing. Seven tumors harbored GLI1 fusions with the following partners: ACTB (n=4), PTCH1 (n=2), or MALAT1 (n=1). The remaining 4 cases showed coamplifications of GLI1 with CDK4 and MDM2 genes. Tumors were commonly positive for S100 protein and CD56. CDK4, MDM2, and STAT6 were positive in GLI1-amplified tumors. Two of 6 patients with available follow-up (1 each with GLI1 amplification and PTCH1-GLI1 fusion) developed distant metastases. Both tumors showed a high mitotic index and tumor necrosis. The head and neck region, particularly tongue, is a common location for GLI1-related mesenchymal tumors. Although a morphologic overlap was noted with the previously reported “pericytoma with t(7,12) translocation,” often occurring in the tongue, our findings expand the or... More of this in the The American Journal of Surgical Pathology Blog.

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