STAT6 immunohistochemistry is helpful in the diagnosis of solitary fibrous tumors

Am J Surg Pathol. 2014 Apr;38(4):552-9. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000000137.


Solitary fibrous tumor (SFT) is an uncommon fibroblastic neoplasm. Although histologic characteristics and frequent CD34 expression allow for an accurate diagnosis in the majority of SFT cases, a wide histologic spectrum and an occasional unexpected immunophenotype may pose diagnostic challenges. Molecular analyses have discovered that almost all SFTs harbor an NAB2-STAT6 fusion gene, which is considered specific to this tumor type. Recent studies have suggested that STAT6 immunohistochemistry is a reliable surrogate for detection of the fusion gene. Our aim was to validate these findings by examining a large number of SFT cases and a broad array of 30 different types of non-SFT tumors. A total of 49 SFTs with a range of histologic characteristics and 159 benign or malignant tumors that can mimic SFTs were retrieved and stained for STAT6. All 49 SFTs (100%) showed STAT6 expression that was restricted in the nucleus, mostly in a diffuse and strong manner, irrespective of the tumor sites and histologic patterns. The staining was uniform in most cases but was heterogenous in about 20% of the cases in which zonal staining attenuation was observed, likely reflecting variability in fixation or tissue ischemia. In contrast, only 4 non-SFT tumors (2.5%) exhibited weak nuclear STAT6 expression, whereas the remaining 155 cases showed no staining or often weak reactivity in both the cytoplasm and the nucleus. Therefore, nuclear STAT6 immunoreactivity is a highly sensitive and specific marker of SFTs and can be helpful when diagnosis is inconclusive by conventional methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Retrospective Studies
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / analysis*
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / biosynthesis
  • Solitary Fibrous Tumors / chemistry
  • Solitary Fibrous Tumors / diagnosis*
  • Solitary Fibrous Tumors / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor
  • STAT6 protein, human