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Mod Pathol. 2017 Oct;30(10):1422-1432. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2017.61. Epub 2017 Jun 23.

SMARCA4-deficient thoracic sarcoma: a distinctive clinicopathological entity with undifferentiated rhabdoid morphology and aggressive behavior.

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Division of Anatomic Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.
Division of Anatomic Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA.
Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.


A distinct subset of thoracic sarcomas with undifferentiated rhabdoid morphology and SMARCA4 inactivation has recently been described, and potential targeted therapy for SMARC-deficient tumors is emerging. We sought to validate the clinicopathological features of SMARCA4-deficient thoracic sarcomas. Clinicopathological information was gathered for 40 undifferentiated thoracic tumors with rhabdoid morphology (mediastinum (n=18), lung (n=14), pleura (n=8)). Thymic carcinomas (n=11) were used as a comparison group. Immunohistochemistry included BRG1 (SMARCA4), BRM (SMARCA2), INI-1 (SMARCB1), pan-cytokeratin, desmin, NUT, S-100 protein, TTF1, CD34, and SOX2. BRG1 loss was present in 12 of 40 rhabdoid thoracic tumors (30%): 7 of 18 in mediastinum (39%), 2 of 8 in pleura (25%), and 3 of 14 in lung (21%). All BRG1-deficient tumors tested for BRM (n=8) showed concomitant loss. All thymic carcinomas showed retained BRG1 and INI-1. Morphologically, tumors with BRG1 loss showed sheets of monotonous ovoid cells with indistinct cell borders, abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm, and prominent nucleoli. Scattered areas with rhabdoid morphology (ie, eccentric nuclei, dense eosinophilic cytoplasm, discohesion) were present in all the cases. SMARCA4/BRG1-deficient sarcomas showed rare cells positive for cytokeratin in 10 cases (83%). One showed rare TTF1-positive cells. All were negative for desmin, NUT, and S-100 protein. CD34 was positive in three of five (60%) BRG1-deficient tumors tested. SOX2 was positive in all four BRG1-deficient tumors tested, and negative in all seven tested cases with retained BRG1. SMARCA4/BRG1-deficient sarcomas occurred at median age of 59 years (range 44-76) with male predominance (9:3) and had worse 2-year survival compared with BRG1-retained tumors (12.5% vs 64.4%, P=0.02). SMARCA4-deficient thoracic sarcomas can be identified based on their distinctive high-grade rhabdoid morphology, and the diagnosis can be confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Identification of these tumors is clinically relevant due to their aggressive behavior, poor prognosis, and potential targeted therapy.

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