Histologic and immunohistochemical differences between hereditary and sporadic diffuse gastric carcinoma

Hee Eun Lee, Thomas C. Smyrk, Lizhi Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We aimed to identify histopathologic features unique in hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) by comparing with its sporadic counterpart (SDGC). 11 patients with confirmed CDH1 mutation who were found to have HDGC in a prophylactic total gastrectomy were collected. Median age of HDGC patients was 39 years (range 24-57). All HDGC cases had intramucosal signet ring cell carcinoma. Twenty-three invasive tumor foci from 7 patients with HDGC were available for ancillary studies, and we evaluated each focus separately. Almost all foci (20/23) showed two distinct tumor cell populations, namely, large signet ring cells and small signet ring cells. The large cells were located just beneath the surface epithelium and were positive for mucicarmine and pCEA, while the small cells were found in the deeper lamina propria and were mostly negative for mucicarmine and pCEA. A subset of small cells (6 foci from two resected stomachs) showed poorly differentiated morphology with p16 positivity. All other tumor cells with well-differentiated signet ring cell morphology were negative for p16. In contrast, 18 of 20 SDGCs were positive for p16. In addition, all HDGCs were negative for CDX2, while 19 of 20 SDGCs were positive. We propose that there are three distinct tumor cell populations in HDGC: well-differentiated large cells, well-differentiated small cells, and poorly differentiated small cells, and that the latter group with aberrant p16 expression may represents a more aggressive phenotype. The absence of CDX2 in HDGC suggests that it may develop along a carcinogenetic pathway different from that of SDGC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Pathology
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • CDH1 mutation
  • CDX2
  • Gastric carcinoma
  • Hereditary diffuse gastric carcinoma
  • p16

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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