Tuberous sclerosis complex mutations in patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Observations on phenotypic and treatment-related associations

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Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNETs) in familial tuberous sclerosis (TSC1 and TSC2 mutations) have been known and studied. However, little is known about PanNET patients harboring the very rare (less than 2%) sporadic TSC mutations. Some renal tumors have been shown to harbor sporadic TSC mutations, with a distinctive morphological correlate. We hereby describe this rather unusual molecular alteration in well-differentiated pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (WD PanNETs) with a focus on their morphology and treatment outcomes. Six cases of WD PanNETs harboring sporadic TSC mutations were identified retrospectively. H&E slides and corresponding immunostains were reviewed for all cases. Clinical, molecular, and radiological information was obtained using the electronic medical records. Cohort consisted of 4 males and 2 females. Median age at diagnosis was 50 years (range 33–74 years). Origin of neoplasm was the pancreas and, in all but one, patient had liver metastasis by the time of presentation. Six out of six cases demonstrated a unique tumor morphology, with ample eosinophilic cytoplasm. Tumors were arranged in sheets and nests; prominent cystic change was noted in one case. Two cases were additionally biopsied post-treatment with capecitabine and temozolomide, and showed even more abundant oncocytic cytoplasm, eccentric nuclei, and a prominent cherry red nucleolus, and were arranged in a cluster of 3–4 cells, separated by stromal cells. Every patient had a different TSC2 variant with no cases of TSC1 mutations. Other common variants included MEN1 (4/6), DAXX (2/6), and TP53 (2/6). Per the WH0 2019 classification, tumors were graded as NET-G3 (n = 3) and NET-G2 (n = 3). Ki-67 s ranged from 7.2 to 60. All cases had retained MMR protein expression. The majority of patients (4/6) have expired. Although they received multiple treatments, a consistent pattern observed in patients was marked radiologic response to chemotherapy with capecitabine and temozolomide (offered in 5/6 patients) with duration of responses reaching 11 months in the majority of cases, with one patient showing near complete pathologic response of localized disease. TSC2 mutations may confer distinctive appearance in WD PanNETs, reminiscent of their effects in renal tumors. Although not entirely specific, this distinct morphological pattern with abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm in WD PanNETs could be reflective of an associated TSC mutation, with suggestions of significant therapeutic response to a specific cytotoxic chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-175
Number of pages9
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Carcinoid
  • Eosinophilic variant
  • Neuroendocrine neoplasms
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Survival
  • Tuberous sclerosis complex


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