Context: Pheochromocytoma-paraganglioma syndrome is caused by mutations in SDHB, SDHC, and SDHD, encoding subunits of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH), and in SDHAF2, required for flavination of SDHA. A recent report described a patient with an abdominal paraganglioma, immunohistochemically negative for SDHA, and identified a causal germline mutation in SDHA.
Objective: In this study, we evaluated the significance of SDHA immunohistochemistry in the identification of new patients with SDHA mutations.
Setting: This study was performed in the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and the Université Paris Descartes in Paris (France).
Methods: We investigated 316 pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas for SDHA expression. Sequence analysis of SDHA was performed on all tumors that were immunohistochemically negative for SDHA and on a subset of tumors immunohistochemically positive for SDHA.
Results: Six tumors were immunohistochemically negative for SDHA. Four tumors from Dutch patients showed a germline c.91C → T SDHA gene mutation (p.Arg31X). Another tumor (from France) carried a germline SDHA missense mutation c.1753C → T (p.Arg585Trp). Loss of the wild-type SDHA allele was confirmed by loss of heterozygosity analysis. Sequence analysis of 35 SDHA immunohistochemically positive tumors did not reveal additional SDHA mutations.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that SDHA immunohistochemistry on paraffin-embedded tumors can reveal the presence of SDHA germline mutations and allowed the identification of SDHA-related tumors in at least 3% of patients affected by apparently sporadic (para)sympathetic paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas.