Inflammatory fibroid polyps of the gastrointestinal tract: evidence for a dendritic cell origin

Am J Surg Pathol. 2004 Jan;28(1):107-14. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200401000-00013.


Inflammatory fibroid polyps (IFPs) are rare mesenchymal tumors of the gastrointestinal tract that consist of spindle-shaped stromal cells and an inflammatory infiltrate rich in eosinophils. Their etiology and histogenesis remain unknown. Based on previous reports of their immunoreactivity for CD34 and c-kit biomarkers, IFPs have been thought to be related to gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). After reviewing the current literature and examining IFPs at the light microscopic level, we evaluated a series of IFPs using an extensive panel of immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization markers in an effort to gain insight into their etiology and histogenesis and to determine their true relationship to GISTs. Sixteen routinely processed IFP specimens (14 gastric, 1 ileal, and 1 rectal) were immunohistochemically stained for antibodies to CD34, HMB-45, desmin, smooth muscle actin, calponin, h-caldesmon, anaplastic lymphoma kinase, S-100 protein, epithelial membrane antigen, c-kit (CD117), stem cell factor (SCF/N19 or kit ligand), p53, bcl-2, cyclin D1, and human herpesvirus-8 (HHV8). In situ hybridization for Epstein-Barr virus-encoded RNA (EBER) was also performed. Ten cases were further evaluated for the dendritic cell markers fascin, CD21, CD23, and CD35. Stromal cells were diffusely positive for CD34 and fascin in all (100%) cases, and these stromal cells were, in addition, immunoreactive for calponin and smooth muscle actin in 88% and 25% of cases, respectively. CD35 was also found to be focally reactive in the stromal cells. Cyclin-D1 was overexpressed in all (100%) IFPs. All other immunohistochemical markers and EBER were negative in the stromal cells. These findings suggest that the proliferating stromal cells in IFPs are of dendritic cell origin, with some cases also exhibiting myofibroblastic features. Absence of c-kit, SCF, and h-caldesmon immunoreactivity fails to support a relationship to GISTs. We also conclude that Epstein Barr virus and HHV8 are unlikely etiologic agents of IFPs. Overexpression of cyclin D1 in all cases suggests that a defect in cell-cycle regulation may be involved in the growth of IFPs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Cell Lineage
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Intestinal Polyps / metabolism
  • Intestinal Polyps / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stromal Cells / cytology
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor