Background: Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor (IMT) is an uncommon tumor of extrapulmonary and pulmonary tissues with an unpredictable clinical course, occasional recurrences, and rare malignant transformation. Clonal abnormalities with rearrangements of chromosome of 2p23 and the ALK gene have been reported in a few cases. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether these are consistent abnormalities among IMTs or represent a distinct subset.
Design: Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded archival tissue sections from 47 IMTs in 40 patients were immunostained with monoclonal antibodies against ALK and p80. Fluorescence in situ hybridization for ALK rearrangements was done on 22 IMTs from 19 patients. Findings were correlated with clinical features and outcome.
Results: ALK positivity was observed in 17 of 47 IMTs (36%) and p80 positivity in 16 of 47 IMTs (34%). Fluorescence in situ hybridization showed ALK rearrangements in nine cases (47%), aneuploidy in three cases (16%), and no rearrangement in seven cases (37%). IMTs with ALK abnormalities by immunohistochemistry and/or fluorescence in situ hybridization originated in the abdomen/pelvis/retroperitoneum, chest, and extremities. The mean age was 6.6 years, with a male/female ratio of 1.3. 64% of patients had no evidence of disease at last follow-up, 45% had one or more recurrences, and 18% displayed histologic evidence of malignant transformation. The IMTs without ALK abnormalities occurred in older children, were more frequent in females, and had fewer recurrences. However, in this group of 40 patients, the differences between the groups with and without ALK abnormalities did not have statistical significance. Aneuploidy without ALK abnormalities was associated with malignant transformation in three of five cases.
Conclusions: Abnormalities of ALK and p80 and evidence of chromosomal rearrangements of 2p23 occur in a significant proportion of IMTs. These changes are most frequent in abdominal and pulmonary IMTs in the first decade of life and are associated with a higher frequency of recurrence. These findings confirm the neoplastic nature of a subset IMT with ALK abnormalities and suggest that aneuploid IMT is a subset with more aggressive clinical behavior.