Immunohistochemical study of microphthalmia transcription factor and tyrosinase in angiomyolipoma of the kidney, renal cell carcinoma, and renal and retroperitoneal sarcomas: Comparative evaluation with traditional diagnostic markers

Angel Zavala-Pompa, Andrew L. Folpe, Rafael E. Jimenez, So Dug Lim, Cynthia Cohen, John N. Eble, Mahul B. Amin

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Angiomyolipoma has a unique immunophenotype with co-expression of muscle-specific actin and melanocytic markers such as HMB-45 and Melan-A. The most recently developed melanocytic markers, microphthalmia transcription factor and tyrosinase, have not been studied in the diagnosis of angiomyolipoma. We tested 29 renal angiomyolipomas (21 classic histology, 4 epithelioid variants, 2 lipomatous variants, and 2 leiomyomatous variants) with an immunohistochemical panel, including microphthalmia transcription factor, tyrosinase, HMB-45, Melan-A, and muscle-specific actin. Results were compared with 15 renal cell carcinomas (9 conventional types, 6 with sarcomatoid change), 2 leiomyosarcomas, 5 liposarcomas, and 1 unclassified high-grade sarcoma. Microphthalmia transcription factor expression was seen in 22 of 29 angiomyolipomas, one renal cell carcinoma, and one well-differentiated liposarcoma (that is, 2 of 23 non-angiomyolipomas; sensitivity 75%, specificity 91%). Tyrosinase expression was seen in 4 of 29 angiomyolipomas and 0 of 23 non-angiomyolipomas (sensitivity 14%, specificity 100%). HMB-45 was positive in 24 of 29 angiomyolipomas and 0 of 23 non-angiomyolipomas (sensitivity 83%, specificity 100%). Melan-A was expressed by 25 of 29 angiomyolipomas and 0 of 23 non-angiomyolipomas (sensitivity 86%, specificity 100%). Muscle-specific actin was expressed by 29 of 29 angiomyolipomas and 2 of 23 non-angiomyolipomas (both leiomyosarcomas; sensitivity 100%, specificity 91% [100% excluding leiomyosarcomas]). Microphthalmia transcription factor showed the most widespread staining in angiomyolipoma (50% of cases staining more than half of the tumor cells) followed by Melan-A (24% of cases staining more than 50%). Only three cases showed positivity for all four melanocytic markers, while in one case each only microphthalmia transcription factor and Melan-A were positive. We conclude that microphthalmia transcription factor, but not tyrosinase immunostaining, has a sensitivity and specificity that rivals those of the established markers, HMB-45 and Melan-A, in the diagnosis of angiomyolipoma. Our data supports the use of a panel in difficult cases that includes antibodies to microphthalmia transcription factor, either Melan-A or HMB-45, and muscle-specific actin to provide the best mix of high sensitivity, high specificity, nuclear and cytoplasmic immunolocalization, and widespread staining of cells within a given tumor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-70
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2001



  • Angiomyolipoma
  • HMB-45
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney neoplasms
  • Melan-A
  • Microphthalmia transcription factor
  • Monoclonal antibody
  • Retroperitoneal sarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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