Immunohistochemistry for Beta-Catenin in the Differential Diagnosis of Spindle Cell Lesions: Analysis of a Series and Review of the Literature

Histopathology. 2007 Oct;51(4):509-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2007.02794.x. Epub 2007 Aug 17.


Aims: Nuclear staining for beta-catenin by immunohistochemistry is being used increasingly to diagnose desmoid tumours (deep fibromatoses), especially where the differential diagnosis includes other abdominal spindle cell neoplasms. This study aimed to define the prevalence of beta-catenin positivity in desmoid tumours and other morphologically similar spindle cell neoplasms.

Method and results: Nuclear beta-catenin expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 270 soft tissue tumours. Nuclear immunopositivity was detected in 80% of cases of sporadic desmoid fibromatosis (24/30) and in 67% of tumours in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (8/12). Nuclear positivity was also present in 14/25 superficial fibromatoses (56%), 3/10 low-grade myofibroblastic sarcomas (30%), 5/23 solitary fibrous tumours (22%), 1/5 infantile fibrosarcomas (20%), 1/18 desmoplastic fibroblastomas (6%) and 1/21 gastrointestinal stromal tumours (5%). No nuclear immunoreactivity was present in neurofibromas (0/26), schwannomas (0/25), nodular fasciitis (0/19), leiomyosarcomas (0/16), inflammatory myofibroblastic tumours (0/12), fibromas of tendon sheath (0/9), lipofibromatoses (0/5), Gardner fibromas (0/4), calcifying aponeurotic fibromas (0/4) or fibromatosis colli (0/1).

Conclusion: Nuclear staining for beta-catenin is supportive, but not definitive, of the diagnosis of desmoid fibromatosis. No significant difference in immunoreactivity was observed between sporadic and familial desmoid fibromatoses. beta-Catenin negativity does not preclude the diagnosis of fibromatosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Abdominal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Abdominal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fibromatosis, Abdominal / diagnosis
  • Fibromatosis, Abdominal / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Sarcoma / chemistry*
  • Sarcoma / diagnosis
  • Sarcoma / pathology
  • beta Catenin / analysis*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • beta Catenin