Gastric carcinomas consist of a heterogeneous group of neoplasms with broad cytological and architectural variations. Gastric carcinomas with lymphoid stroma show poor correlation between their histomorphology and biological behavior. This contrast causes a need for more detailed analysis and molecular exploration of lymphoid stroma-rich gastric carcinomas with medullary like features and lack of glandular differentiation. In this study, we performed a detailed retrospective analysis of 53 gastric carcinomas among 654 gastric tumors from surgical resection specimens, all of which had no prominent glandular differentiation. Morphological and clinical data were compared with immunohistochemistry (MLH1, PMS2, MSH2 and MSH6 for mismatch repair mechanism deficiency; CD2, CD8 and CD163 for immune infiltration; and PD-1, PD-L1, LMP-1, ERBB2 and ki-67) besides EBER in situ hybridization and molecular studies (PCR based microsatellite instability and BRAF V600E mutation analysis). Morphological, immunohistochemical and molecular findings lead us to classify lymphoid stroma-rich advanced gastric carcinomas (n = 40/53) into two distinct entities originating from two different pathogenetic pathway: one is gastric carcinomas revealing predominantly medullary type morphology with defective DNA mismatch repair mechanism (n = 30/53) and the other is EBV associated carcinomas (n = 10/53). In addition, we suggest that biomarker based classification algorithms besides morphological evaluation are necessary to identify these two entities. Distinguishing these entities is crucial to apply different treatment strategies, including alternative treatments such as immunotherapy.
Keywords: EBV; MMR; MSI; gastric carcinoma; lymphoid stroma-rich; medullary.