Uterine epithelioid leiomyosarcomas with clear cells: reactivity with HMB-45 and the concept of PEComa

Am J Surg Pathol. 2004 Feb;28(2):244-9. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200402000-00013.


In this study, we investigated HMB-45 expression in epithelioid uterine leiomyosarcomas with clear cell areas. From 12 epithelioid leiomyosarcomas, we selected 5 that had: 1) clear cell areas and 2) spindle cell areas that were at least focally positive for desmin and caldesmon. The patients' ages ranged from 47 to 82 years (mean 64 years). Presenting symptoms were uterine bleeding (three), abdominal pain (one), and a pelvic mass (one). There was no history of tuberous sclerosis or lymphangioleiomyomatosis. One patient had stage II disease, one stage III, and three stage IV. All were treated with total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Two received radiotherapy, and three were also treated with chemotherapy. The tumors ranged in size from 4 x 3 x 3 cm to 10 x 7 x 6 cm; all had significant cellular atypia, areas of coagulative necrosis, and between 10 and 90 mitoses per 10 high power fields. Vascular invasion was seen in three cases. The epithelioid component varied from 50% to 90% in each case; and the percentage of clear cells was < 1% in one case, 5% in one case, and 10% to 80% in three cases. Smooth muscle actin and desmin were positive in all cases. Four cases were positive for HMB-45 only in the clear cell areas. The tumor with < 1% of clear cells was negative for HMB-45. All were negative for S-100 and c-kit. Three patients died of disease at 9, 30, and 32 months; one patient is alive with progressive disease at 6 months, and one patient (stage II disease) is alive with no evidence of disease at 8 months. Unequivocal uterine epithelioid leiomyosarcomas may have clear cells positive for HMB-45. These tumors might belong to the group of lesion designated as PEComas; however, it is advisable to designate them as uterine leiomyosarcomas. In uterine smooth muscle tumors, some epithelioid cells most likely undergo clear cell changes and become positive for HMB-45. It would be advisable to perform this stain in all epithelioid smooth muscle tumors of the uterus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Leiomyosarcoma / blood supply
  • Leiomyosarcoma / metabolism*
  • Leiomyosarcoma / pathology*
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Uterine Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Uterine Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens
  • Neoplasm Proteins