Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are uncommon soft tissue tumors. In children with neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), a MPNST often arises in a preexisting neurofibroma, or may represent an initial manifestation without other obvious stigmata of the disease. The development of MPNSTs may be associated with instability of the p53 tumor suppressor gene since it is the most frequent genetic abnormality in soft tissue sarcomas. To assess the presence of p53 accumulation in MPNSTs and its correlation with clinical and pathologic features, we studied 12 neurofibromas (NFs), including 4 tumors with cellular features (one congenital) and 10 MPNSTs. Six MPNSTs were associated with NF1, all of which developed within a plexiform neurofibroma. Cell proliferation evaluated with an antibody to Ki-67 and nuclear p53 staining were both detected by immunohistochemistry. We found p53 positivity in 60% of MPNSTs. All NFs except the congenital tumor were p53 immunonegative (P < 0.01). Rare p53-positive nuclei were detected in the transitional zone in two of six MPNSTs arising in plexiform NFs. Ki-67 distinguished the NFs from MPNSTs (P < 0.005). Half of the NF1 patients with p53-positive MPNSTs developed recurrence or metastases or developed a second malignancy within 2 years of diagnosis, whereas patients with p53-positive sporadic MPNSTs were free of disease 1 to 7 years later. We found p53 accumulation more frequently in NF1-associated MPNSTs. p53 mutations may be an additional biologic factor to account for the poor prognosis in these tumors.
- Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor