ALK Immunoexpression is Specific for Inflammatory Myofibroblastic Tumor Among Vulvovaginal Mesenchymal Neoplasms

Int J Gynecol Pathol. 2023 Jan 1;42(1):1-10. doi: 10.1097/PGP.0000000000000858. Epub 2022 Feb 18.


Gynecologic tract origin of inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor (IMT), a receptor tyrosine kinase fusion driven tumor with malignant potential, is uncommon and mostly involves the uterine corpus where misclassification as a smooth muscle tumor may occur due to overlapping morphologic features. With rare exception, uterine IMT involves ALK rearrangements and exhibits ALK immunoexpression. Molecularly confirmed vulvovaginal IMT has not been reported, but several low-grade mesenchymal tumors in this region exhibit myxoid stroma and/or inflammatory infiltrates that may resemble IMT. The aims of this study were to define the diagnostic specificity of ALK immunoexpression for IMT among a broad spectrum (107 cases) of vulvovaginal mesenchymal tumors in the differential diagnosis of IMT and to report the clinicopathologic features of vulvovaginal IMT identified in our archives or via retrospective ALK staining of otherwise classified vulvovaginal tumors. Review of archives from 5 different centers revealed a single case of vulvar IMT in a 62-yr-old woman. The 2.5 cm well-circumscribed tumor exhibited the typical microscopic features of IMT, namely a loose fascicular distribution of bland spindle cells within a myxoid stroma, accompanied by an infiltrate of plasma cells, lymphocytes, and eosinophils. The tumor cells exhibited expression for smooth muscle actin, desmin, h-caldesmon, and ALK. Break-apart fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed the presence of ALK rearrangement. The patient did not receive any treatment and is alive without disease 32 mo later. No evidence of ALK expression was detected in any of the other 107 vulvovaginal tumors, which included 14 aggressive angiomyxomas, 2 superficial angiomyxomas, 12 angiomyofibroblastomas, 8 cellular angiofibromas, 15 smooth muscle neoplasms, 10 peripheral nerve sheath tumors, 20 fibroepithelial polyps, and a variety of other low grade mesenchymal tumors. Although vulvovaginal ALK- rearranged IMT is exceedingly rare, the behavior remains to be fully understood. ALK immunohistochemistry, which appears specific for IMT in this anatomic site, is advised in the evaluation of vulvovaginal mesenchymal tumors exhibiting myxoid stroma and/or an inflammatory infiltrate.

MeSH terms

  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Female
  • Granuloma, Plasma Cell* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Uterine Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Biomarkers, Tumor