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Mod Pathol. 2014 Jan;27(1):55-61. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2013.115. Epub 2013 Aug 9.

Diagnostic utility of SOX10 to distinguish malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor from synovial sarcoma, including intraneural synovial sarcoma.

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Department of Pathology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.


Synovial sarcoma and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor pose a significant diagnostic challenge given similar histomorphology. The distinction is further complicated by similar immunophenotype and especially by occasional synovial sarcomas that present as intraneural tumors. Although the presence of a t(X;18) rearrangement or expression of TLE1 can help confirm the diagnosis of synovial sarcoma, negative results for these tests are not diagnostic of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor. The SOX10 transcription factor, a putative marker of neural crest differentiation, may have diagnostic utility in this differential, but immunohistochemical data are limited. The goal of the present study was to determine the diagnostic utility of SOX10 to discriminate between synovial sarcoma and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor. Forty-eight cases of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor, all from patients with documented neurofibromatosis, and 97 cases of genetically confirmed synovial sarcoma, including 4 intraneural synovial sarcomas, were immunohistochemically stained for SOX10. The stain was scored for intensity and fraction of cells staining. Thirty-two of 48 malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (67%) were SOX10-positive. The majority of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors showed ≥2+ staining, but staining did not correlate with grade. By contrast, only 7/97 (7%) synovial sarcomas were SOX10-positive. Only three synovial sarcomas showed ≥2+ staining but, importantly, two of these were intraneural synovial sarcoma. Therefore, SOX10 is a specific (93%), albeit not very sensitive (67%), diagnostic marker to support a diagnosis of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor over synovial sarcoma. Furthermore, the stain needs to be interpreted with caution in intraneural tumors in order to avoid a potential diagnostic pitfall. It remains to be determined whether SOX10-positive cells in intraneural synovial sarcoma represent entrapped Schwann cells, synovial sarcoma cells or both.

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