Canadian Pathologists Identify Distinct Immunohistochemistry in Malignant Mesothelioma Cells

Even individuals with a history of exposure to asbestos need to go through time-consuming testing processes before their symptoms can be diagnosed as malignant mesothelioma. This has been a source of frustration, since correct diagnosis is essential to ensuring that patients receive the right treatment. Now a team of Canadian pathologists has identified a distinction in part of a mesothelial cell’s surface that can more quickly determine whether a patient is suffering from a benign or malignant mesothelial condition. 

Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Helps Diagnose Malignant Mesothelioma

A receptor tyrosine kinase is a cell surface receptor that can play an outsized role in cell mutations, and according to researchers from the Departments of Pathology at Vancouver General Hospital and the University of British Columbia, a receptor tyrosine kinase called c-MET is known to be present in high levels in malignant mesothelioma and other cancers. The group set out to determine whether it is also overexpressed in more benign mesothelial conditions so that its presence or absence could be used to distinguish between the two.

Writing in the journal Human Pathology, the group describes their efforts at answering this question using immunohistochemistry analysis. They stained tissues including epithelioid mesothelial proliferations (benign), reactive spindle cell mesothelial proliferations (benign), epithelioid malignant mesothelioma and sarcomatoid mesothelioma and compared their levels of c-MET.

c-MET Present in High Levels In Malignant Mesothelioma

The group’s comparison revealed that when they tested the c-MET cell areas using two well-established marker stains (BAP1 and Membrane) for evaluation, they found only 3 out of 33 of the benign samples showed positive staining, and those were in trace amounts. 

By comparison, the epithelioid malignant mesothelioma samples showed positive staining in 36 out of 45 samples, with scores that were ranked as either moderate or strong in 24 of the samples. They also found that by adding BAP1 staining to the samples of epithelioid malignant mesothelioma that had tested with negative or trace amounts, the sensitivity increased and the scores increased.

Notably the same level of test sensitivity was not true of the samples of sarcomatoid malignant mesothelioma, indicating that though the immunohistochemistry tests are sensitive and predictive enough to be used to identify and distinguish between malignant and benign epithelioid conditions, the same is not true for sarcomatoid malignant mesothelioma.

Each new discovery about malignant mesothelioma helps us understand more about how best to treat and manage the disease. For information on how the Patient Advocates at can help you, contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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