Molecular pathology of lymphangioleiomyomatosis and other perivascular epithelioid cell tumors

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2010 Jan;134(1):33-40. doi: 10.5858/2008-0542-RAR1.1.


Context: Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a cystic lung disease that can be included in the wide group of proliferative lesions named PEComas (perivascular epithelioid cell tumors). These proliferative tumors are characterized by the coexpression of myogenic and melanogenesis-related markers. In all these lesions, genetic alterations related to the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) have been demonstrated. Striking improvements in the understanding of the genetic basis of this autosomal dominant genetic disease are coupled to the understanding of the mechanisms that link the loss of TSC1 (9q34) or TSC2 (16p13.3) genes with the regulation of the Rheb/m-TOR/p70S6K pathway. These data have opened a new era in the comprehension of the pathogenesis of LAM and have also suggested new therapeutic strategies for this potentially lethal disease.

Objective: To present and discuss the pathologic and molecular features of LAM within the spectrum of PEComas, providing a rational approach to their diagnosis.

Data sources: The published literature and personal experience.

Conclusions: The inclusion of LAM within the PEComa category is supported by a variety of biologic data and can significantly help in providing a comprehensive view of this interesting and clinically relevant group of lesions. The demonstration of molecular alterations of the mTOR pathway in LAM and other PEComas represents a rational basis for innovative therapeutic approaches with inhibitors of mTOR signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis / genetics*
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis / pathology*
  • Perivascular Epithelioid Cell Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Perivascular Epithelioid Cell Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 1 Protein
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / physiology


  • TSC1 protein, human
  • TSC2 protein, human
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 1 Protein
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Protein Kinases
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases