Differential diagnosis of gastrointestinal stromal tumor and other spindle cell tumors in the gastrointestinal tract based on immunohistochemical analysis

Virchows Arch. 2004 Aug;445(2):142-50. doi: 10.1007/s00428-004-1055-8. Epub 2004 Jun 30.


To confirm the usefulness of an immunohistochemical panel of antibodies for KIT (c-kit/CD117), CD34, desmin, smooth-muscle actin (SMA), h-caldesmon (HCD), S-100 protein, neuron-specific enolase (NSE), and beta-catenin, 297 mesenchymal and peripheral nerve-sheath tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and intra-abdominal locations including 211 gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), 12 leiomyomas, 18 leiomyosarcomas, 17 solitary fibrous tumors (SFTs), 14 schwannomas, and 25 desmoid-type fibromatoses (DTFs) were analyzed immunohistochemically. Consistent (100%) immunoreactivity for KIT, CD34, desmin and S-100, and nuclear accumulation of beta-catenin were detected in GISTs, SFTs, smooth-muscle tumors, schwannomas, and DTFs, respectively. Immunoreactivity for SMA, HCD, and NSE was observed in a wide range of these tumors. In addition, 418 bone and soft tissue tumors were enrolled in this study for KIT immunostaining. As a result, a limited number of these tumors were KIT positive, including synovial sarcoma that showed morphological similarity to GISTs. These findings suggest that KIT, CD34, desmin, S-100, and beta-catenin are key markers for clinical diagnosis of GISTs and other spindle cell tumors that may involve the gastrointestinal tract, whereas SMA, HCD, and NSE have only limited value.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Desmin / metabolism
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoplasms, Fibrous Tissue / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms, Fibrous Tissue / metabolism
  • Neoplasms, Muscle Tissue / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms, Muscle Tissue / metabolism
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism
  • S100 Proteins / metabolism
  • Sarcoma / diagnosis
  • Sarcoma / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / pathology


  • Antigens, CD34
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Desmin
  • S100 Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit