The Presence of ALK Alterations and Clinical Relevance of Crizotinib Treatment in Pediatric Solid Tumors

Pathol Oncol Res. 2019 Jan;25(1):217-224. doi: 10.1007/s12253-017-0332-1. Epub 2017 Oct 28.


Soft tissue sarcomas (STS) and neuroblastomas (NBL), are childhood malignancies still associated with poor prognoses despite the overall improvement in childhood tumor survival of the past decades. Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibition is promising new strategy to improve the outcome of these pediatric tumors. Eighteen histologic samples of pediatric STS and 19 NBL patients were analyzed for ALK abnormalities using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with break-apart probes and immunohistochemistry (IHC). ALK alterations were presented in 20 of the 37 sections. The presence of ALK alteration in NBL samples were detected using IHC in 84,2% of all cases compared to 21,1% FISH positivity. In STS cases the results were less different (IHC 16,7% vs FISH 22,2%). The difference can be explained by the different type of molecular alterations. FISH method detected translocation and amplification, but not the point mutation of ALK gene. IHC confirmed the diagnosis by detecting the expression of ALK protein.After ALK positivity was proven, the effectiveness and safety of the crizotinib therapy was examined in 4 patients (1 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (RMA), 1 embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (RME), 1 inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor (IMT), 1 NBL). We observed continuous remission of the IMT patient, all other cases the inhibitor treatment was not curative.Our findings underline the importance of screening the ALK status parallel with both IHC and FISH. Crizotinib treatment had a long-term effect in ALK positive IMT patients, however itwas only temporary efficient in relapsed, progressive STS and NBL.

Keywords: ALK; Crizotinib; Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor; Neuroblastoma; Soft tissue sarcoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase / genetics*
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase / metabolism
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crizotinib / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gene Amplification
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Muscle Tissue / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Muscle Tissue / genetics*
  • Neoplasms, Muscle Tissue / pathology
  • Point Mutation
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, Alveolar / drug therapy
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, Alveolar / genetics*
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, Alveolar / pathology
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, Embryonal / drug therapy
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, Embryonal / genetics*
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, Embryonal / pathology
  • Translocation, Genetic


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Crizotinib
  • ALK protein, human
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase