Significance of p53 immunostaining in mesothelial proliferations and correlation with TP53 mutation status

Modern Pathology 2021 September 8 [Link]

Julia R Naso, Basile Tessier-Cloutier, Janine Senz, David G Huntsman, Andrew Churg


p53 immunohistochemistry has long been proposed for the separation of benign from malignant mesothelial proliferations, with the older literature suggesting that any degree of positivity supported a diagnosis of mesothelioma. However, using modern immunohistochemistry platforms in other organ systems, notably gynecologic tumors, it has become clear that p53 staining can represent wild-type protein, and only specific staining patterns (absent, overexpression, or cytoplasmic expression) are indicative of a TP53 mutation. We applied these principles to two tissue microarrays containing 94 mesotheliomas and 66 reactive mesothelial proliferations. Seven/65 (11%) epithelioid mesotheliomas showed aberrant staining (four absent and three overexpression patterns) as did 5/29 (17%) of sarcomatoid mesotheliomas (all overexpression patterns). We sequenced the TP53 gene (exons 2-11) in five of the epithelioid and three of the sarcomatoid cases with aberrant staining as well as 12 epithelioid and eight sarcomatoid mesotheliomas with wild-type staining. All three sarcomatoid cases with aberrant staining showed mutated TP53, as did three of the epithelioid cases; in two of the epithelioid cases no mutation was detected, most likely because of large deletions not detected by this assay. In contrast, none of the 20 mesotheliomas with wild-type staining contained mutated TP53. We conclude that absent or overexpression p53 staining patterns can be used as a marker of a malignant vs. a benign mesothelial proliferation. The sensitivity of p53 staining by itself is low, but here addition of p53 to BAP1/MTAP staining increased sensitivity from 72 to 81% for epithelioid and 38 to 50% for sarcomatoid mesotheliomas.