Thymus neuroendocrine tumors with CTNNB1 gene mutations, disarrayed ß-catenin expression, and dual intra-tumor Ki-67 labeling index compartmentalization challenge the concept of secondary high-grade neuroendocrine tumor: a paradigm shift
Twenty-two cases of oncocytic thymic neuroendocrine carcinomas (carcinoid tumors) are presented. The patients were 17 men and 5 women between the ages of 26 and 84 years (median, 55 years). Nine were asymptomatic, and the tumor was found on routine examination; four patients presented with chest pain, two with weight loss, two with multiple endocrine neoplasia I syndrome, and one with Cushing’s syndrome. Surgical resection of the mediastinal tumor was performed in all cases. The lesions were described as soft, light tan to brown, measuring from 3 to 20 cm in greatest diameter. On cut section, the tumors showed a homogeneous surface, soft consistency, and focal areas of hemorrhage. Microscopically, the lesions were characterized by nests or trabeculae of tumor cells that contained abundant granular to densely eosinophilic cytoplasm, with round to oval nuclei and in some areas prominent nucleoli. Mitotic figures ranged from 2 to 10 per 10 high-power fields; foci of comedonecrosis were seen in all cases. Immunohistochemical studies including broad spectrum keratin, CAM 5.2, chromogranin, synaptophysin, Leu-7, and p53 were performed in 12 cases. All of the tumors were strongly positive for CAM 5.2 low-molecular-weight cytokeratin, 11 showed strong positive reaction for Leu-7, 10 for broad-spectrum keratin, 8 for chromogranin, 7 for synaptophysin, and only 1 case showed focal positive staining of the tumor cells for p53. Clinical follow-up of 14 patients showed that 10 were alive between 2 and 11 years, and 4 patients had died of tumor from 4 to 11 years after diagnosis. Patients with good clinical outcome were those whose tumors showed low mitotic activity and minimal nuclear pleomorphism, whereas those who had died of their tumors were those whose tumors were characterized by marked nuclear atypia and higher mitotic rates. Oncocytic thymic carcinoids should be added to the differential diagnosis of anterior mediastinal neoplasms characterized by a monotonous population of tumor cells with prominent oncocytic features.