P63 expression as a biomarker discriminating giant cell tumor of bone from other giant cell-rich bone lesions

Pathol Res Pract. 2016 Oct;212(10):876-879. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2016.07.007. Epub 2016 Jul 14.


Introduction: Giant cell tumor of bone (GCTOB) is a locally aggressive neoplasm that accounts for 5% of all primary bone tumors. This tumor overlaps in histopathologic and radiographic presentations with different malignant, benign, and metabolic giant cell-rich lesions. The purpose of this study is to evaluate p63 expression status in giant cell tumor of bone in comparison with other giant cell-rich lesions.

Materials and methods: In a cross-sectional study we examined immunohistochemical expression of p63 in a series of 100 giant cell-rich bone lesions, including 31 giant cell tumors of bone, 14 osteosarcomas (including 3 giant cell-rich variants), 18 aneurysmal bone cysts (including one solid variant), 8 non-ossifying fibromas, 17 chondroblastomas, 8 tenosynovial giant cell tumors, and 4 brown tumors.

Results: Immunohistochemical analysis showed p63 nuclear expression in 96.8% of giant cell tumors of bone, 14.3% of osteosarcomas, 50% of non-ossifiying fibromas, 22.2% of aneurysmal bone cysts, 68.7% of chondroblastomas, 75.0% of brown tumors and none of the tenosynovial giant cell tumors. Taking into account the intensity of staining, we identified strong staining in 48.4% of giant cell tumors of bone, 35.3% of chondroblastomas and 7.1% of osteosarcomas (in 2 cases which were both giant cell-rich variants). Considering extent of staining, extensive staining was only observed in 58.0% of giant cell tumors of bone, 23.5% of chondroblastomas and 14.3% of osteosarcomas.

Conclusion: A large number of giant cell tumors of bone (96.8%) are positive for p63, which is considerably more than any other giant cell-rich lesion. However, positive staining for p63 is not specific for GCTOB and may be seen in other lesions such as chondroblastoma, non-ossifying fibroma, brown tumor, and giant cell-rich osteosarcoma. P63 is a sensitive (96.8%) and relatively specific marker for discriminating GCTOB from other types of giant cell-rich lesions. We suggest a combined scoring method for p63 IHC staining interpretation in GC-rich lesions, considering both intensity and extent of reaction, with a 2+ cut off as a more accurate marker for the diagnosis of GCTOB within the appropriate clinical context.

Keywords: Giant cell tumor of bone; Giant cell-rich lesions; p63 Expression.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Bone Cysts, Aneurysmal / diagnosis*
  • Bone Cysts, Aneurysmal / metabolism
  • Bone Cysts, Aneurysmal / pathology
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Tumor of Bone / diagnosis*
  • Giant Cell Tumor of Bone / metabolism
  • Giant Cell Tumor of Bone / pathology
  • Giant Cells / metabolism*
  • Giant Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteosarcoma / diagnosis*
  • Osteosarcoma / metabolism
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CKAP4 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins