Validation of a Gene Expression Approach for the Cytological Diagnosis of Epithelioid and Biphasic Pleural Mesothelioma on a Consecutive Series

Cancers 2023 November 22 [Link]

Rossella Bruno, Anello Marcello Poma, Greta Alì, Agnese Proietti, Alessandro Ribechini, Antonio Chella, Gabriella Fontanini


Cytological diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma (PM) is controversial, even using ancillary markers (BAP1, MTAP and CDKN2A). Here, we aimed to prospectively validate a previously developed 117-gene expression panel for the differential cytological diagnosis of epithelioid, biphasic PM and mesothelial hyperplasia. Seventy-seven pleural effusions were classified using the 117-gene expression levels (NanoString system). Sixty-eight cases were also screened for ancillary markers. The performance of both gene panel and ancillary markers was evaluated using ROC metrics. A score using the top consistently deregulated genes between epithelioid and biphasic PM was built to subtype malignant effusions. The panel alone reached a diagnostic accuracy (0.89) comparable to the best marker combination (BAP1 plus MTAP: 0.88). Ancillary tests missed 8 PMs, 7 of which were correctly classified by the panel. The score built by averaging the expression levels of MSLN, CLDN15 and CFB showed an accuracy of 0.80 in subtyping epithelioid and biphasic effusions. The 117-gene panel is effective for PM cytological diagnosis of epithelioid and biphasic PM. This tool can be complementary to ancillary markers, reducing invasive procedures and allowing an earlier diagnosis. Finally, the possibility to subtype PM on effusions strengthens the panel’s role in PM diagnosis and management.