Mesothelioma with rhabdoid features: an ultrastructural and immunohistochemical study of 10 cases

Modern Pathology. advance online publication 6 January 2006; doi:10.1038/modpathol.3800543. Received 6 October 2005; accepted 16 November 2005. [Link]

Nelson G Ordñez1

1 Department of Pathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

Correspondence: Dr NG Ordñez, MD, Department of Pathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030, USA. E-mail:


Mesotheliomas with rhabdoid morphology are rare and only two individual case reports have been documented in the literature. This author reports a series of 10 cases of mesotheliomas with rhabdoid features, nine of which originated in the pleura and one in the peritoneum. Eight of the patients were men and two were women. Six patients had a history of asbestos exposure. Histologically, seven of the mesotheliomas were epithelioid, two sarcomatoid, and one biphasic. The proportion of the rhabdoid cells seen in these cases constituted 15-75% of the individual tumors. Cytoplasmic staining in the rhabdoid cells was seen for pan-keratin and vimentin in all 10 cases, for keratin 7 in eight of eight, for calretinin in nine of 10, and for keratin 5/6 in seven of nine. Nuclear positivity for WT1 was observed in the rhabdoid cells of four of seven cases and membranous reactivity for mesothelin in four of six, and for podoplanin in two of six. Only one case showed desmin positivity in sparse cells in the nonrhabdoid component of the tumor. All of the cases were negative for CEA, MOC-31, TAG-72, CD15, CD34, bcl2, muscle-specific actin, and TTF-1. Ultrastructural studies revealed paranuclear collections of intermediate filaments, but no evidence of rhabdomyoblastic differentiation was seen. The mean survival of five of the six patients for whom this information was available was 3.8 months. The remaining patient had a survival time of 1 year. It is important for pathologists to be aware that mesotheliomas can present rhabdoid features, not only because they can be confused with other malignancies that can exhibit a similar morphology, but also because of their apparently unusually aggressive behavior. The value of immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy in the differential diagnosis of these tumors is discussed.

Keywords: mesothelioma; rhabdoid; immunohistochemistry; electron microscopy