Genomic and Metabolic Hallmarks of SDH- and FH-deficient Renal Cell Carcinomas

Eur Urol Focus. 2022 Sep;8(5):1278-1288. doi: 10.1016/j.euf.2021.12.002. Epub 2022 Mar 11.


Background: Succinate dehydrogenase-deficient and fumarate hydratase-deficient renal cell carcinomas (SDHRCC and FHRCC) are rare kidney cancers driven by loss of TCA cycle enzymes.

Objective: To define and compare the genomic and metabolomic hallmarks of SDHRCC and FHRCC.

Design, setting, and participants: We analyzed SDHRCC and FHRCC tumors with either immunohistochemical evidence of loss of protein expression or genomically confirmed biallelic inactivation of SDHA/B/C/D/AF2 or FH.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: Somatic alterations were identified using clinical pipelines, with allele-specific copy number alterations (CNAs) identified using FACETS. Mass spectrometry-based metabolomic profiling was performed on available SDHRCC and FHRCC tumors.

Results and limitations: Tumors were analyzed for 42 patients (25 FHRCC, 17 SDHRCC). In the germline analysis, 16/17 SDHRCCs harbored a germline alteration in SDHB, whereas only 17/22 FHRCCs had pathogenic germline FH variants. SDHRCCs had a lower mutation burden (p = 0.02) and CNA burden (p = 0.0002) than FHRCCs. All SDHRCCs presented with deletion of chromosome 1p (overlapping SDHB), whereas FHRCCs demonstrated high but not ubiquitous loss of 1q (FH locus). Both SDHRCCs and FHRCCs exhibited significant idiopathic accumulation of the metabolite guanine. FHRCC tumors had elevated levels of urea cycle metabolites (argininosuccinate, citrulline, and fumarate), whereas SDHRCC tumors had elevation of numerous acylcarnitines. These characteristic metabolic changes allowed identification of a previously unrecognized SDH-deficient RCC.

Conclusions: Despite sharing similar genetic etiology, SDHRCC and FHRCC represent distinct molecular entities with unique genetic and metabolic abnormalities.

Patient summary: Kidney cancers driven by loss of the gene encoding either the succinate dehydrogenase or fumarate hydratase enzyme are rare. We sought to define and compare the genetic and metabolic features of these cancer entities.

Keywords: Cancer genomics; FH; FHRCC; Metabolism; Renal cell carcinoma; SDH; SDHRCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / pathology
  • Fumarate Hydratase / genetics
  • Fumarate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / analysis
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / metabolism


  • Fumarate Hydratase
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase