PEComas of the kidney and of the genitourinary tract

Semin Diagn Pathol. 2015 Mar;32(2):140-59. doi: 10.1053/j.semdp.2015.02.006. Epub 2015 Feb 24.


PEComas are mesenchymal tumors composed of histologically and immunohistochemically distinctive perivascular epithelioid cells that are characterized by the coexpression of muscle and melanogenetic markers. This group of lesions includes angiomyolipoma, clear cell "sugar" tumor of the lung and extrapulmonary sites, lymphangioleiomyomatosis, clear cell myomelanocytic tumor of the falciform ligament/ligamentum teres, and rare clear cell tumors of other anatomical sites. In the genitourinary tract, PEComas have been described in the kidney, bladder, prostate, testis, and urethra. Although most PEComas behave as benign tumors, some are potentially malignant, and criteria for malignancy have been suggested for both and renal and extrarenal lesions. Recently, the expression of cathepsin K has been demonstrated in a large number of PEComas and has been proposed as a relatively specific marker to distinguish these proliferations from the majority of human cancers. In addition, a distinctive subset of PEComas harboring TFE3 gene fusions has been reported, giving rise to a possible relationship between them and MiTF/TFE family translocation renal cell carcinomas. The genetic alterations of tuberous sclerosis complex that promote activation of the mTOR pathway have been identified in PEComas. Therapy with mTORC1 inhibitors has been shown to be effective in some cases.

Keywords: Cathepsin-k; HMB45; Pecoma; mTOR.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Perivascular Epithelioid Cell Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Urogenital Neoplasms / pathology*