Background: The FHIT gene on human chromosome 3p14.2 is deleted in a variety of malignant tumors, including clear cell renal carcinomas (RCCs) resulting in a loss of expression of Fhit protein. The Fhit expression in specific subtypes of renal carcinomas has not been characterized. We have investigated the association of Fhit expression with particular subtypes of renal tumors to determine the role and specificity of this putative tumor suppressor gene in renal neoplasia.
Material and methods: The immunohistochemical expression of Fhit was tested in normal kidneys and in 109 renal neoplasms consisting of 51 clear cell RCCs, 26 papillary RCCs, two chromophobe carcinomas, six oncocytomas, four pelvic transitional cell carcinomas and 20 Wilms' tumors from formalin fixed and routinely processed tissue.
Results: Normal renal tubules expressed Fhit strongly and consistently. The majority (78%) of clear cell RCCs showed reduced or absent expression of Fhit, whereas the majority (74%) of papillary carcinomas, all chromophobe renal cell carcinomas, and oncocytomas were strongly positive. Sixty-eight percent of low-grade (G1 plus G2) but only 9% of high-grade (G3 plus G4) clear cell carcinomas were Fhit negative. Wilms' tumors demonstrated focal staining in the epithelial component in 8 of 20 cases (40%).
Conclusions: The loss of Fhit expression in a high percentage of clear cell RCCs with conservation of Fhit in other types of tumors supports the proposed role of FHIT alterations in the genesis of clear cell carcinomas in contrast to other types of renal epithelial tumors. FHIT expression may play a role in epithelial differentiation of nephroblastomas (Wilms' tumors).