Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are diagnostically challenging neoplasms for which sensitive and specific immunohistochemical markers are lacking. Although limited to date, previous studies have suggested that NF1 (17q), NF2 (22q), p16 (9p), and EGFR (7p) alterations may be involved in MPNST tumorigenesis. To determine whether specific genetic changes differentiate between MPNST and morphologically similar neoplasms, we assessed these chromosomal regions in 22 MPNSTs (9 NF1-associated, 13 sporadic), 13 plexiform neurofibromas, 5 cellular schwannomas, 8 synovial sarcomas, 6 fibrosarcomas, and 13 hemangiopericytomas by 2-color FISH. NF1 deletions, often in the form of monosomy 17, were found in MPNSTs (76%), neurofibromas (31%), hemangiopericytomas (17%), and fibrosarcomas (17%), but not in synovial sarcomas or cellular schwannomas. NF1 losses were encountered more frequently in MPNSTs versus other sarcomas (p < 0.001), as were p16 homozygous deletions (45% vs 0%; p < 0.001), EGFR amplifications (26% vs 0%; p = 0.006), and polysomies for either chromosomes 7 (53% vs 12%; p = 0.003) or 22 (50% vs 4%; p < 0.001). Hemizygous or homozygous p16 deletions were detected in 75% of MPNSTs, but not in benign nerve sheath tumors (p < 0.001). Thus, FISH analysis identifies relatively specific genetic patterns that may be useful in selected cases, for which the differential diagnosis includes low- or high-grade MPNST.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-709
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2002


  • Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)
  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)
  • Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor
  • NF1
  • NF2
  • Sarcoma
  • p16


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