The vulvar immunohistochemical panel (Vip) project: Molecular profiles of vulvar squamous cell carcinoma

Giorgia Garganese, Frediano Inzani, Simona Maria Fragomeni, Giulia Mantovani, Luigi Della Corte, Angelo Piermattei, Angela Santoro, Giuseppe Angelico, Luciano Giacò, Giacomo Corrado, Anna Fagotti, Gian Franco Zannoni, Giovanni Scambia

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


Introduction: The study’s aim was to investigate the immunohistochemical (IHC) expression of biological markers as potential prognostic/therapeutic factors in vulvar squamous cell carcinoma (VSCC). Methodology: A series of 101 patients surgically treated at our center from 2016 to 2020 were retrospectively enrolled: 53 node-negative (Group A) and 48 node-positive (Group B). A total of 146 samples, 101 from primary tumor (T) and 45 from nodal metastases (N), were inves-tigated. The IHC panel included: p16, p53, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2, PD-L1, CD3, HER2/neu, ER, PR, EGFR, VEGF, and CD31. The reactions were evaluated on qualitative and semi-quantitative scales. Generalized Linear Model (GLM) and cluster analysis were performed in R statistical en-vironment. A distance plot compared the IHC panel of T with the correspondent N. Results: In Group A: p16-positive expression (surrogate of HPV-dependent pathway) was significantly higher (20.8% vs. 6.2%, p = 0.04). In Group B: PD-L1 positivity and high EGFR expression were found, respectively, in 77.1% and 97.9% patients (T and/or N). Overall, p16-negative tumors showed a higher PD-L1 expression (60.9% vs. 50.0%). In both groups: tumoral immune infiltration (CD3 expression) was mainly moderate/intense (80% vs. 95%); VEGF showed strong/moderate-diffuse expression in 13.9% of T samples; CD31, related to tumoral microvessel density (MVD), showed no difference between groups; a mutated p53 and over-expressed PD-L1 showed significant association with nodal metastasis, with Odds Ratios (OR) of 4.26 (CI 95% = 1.14–15.87, p = 0.03) and 2.68 (CI 95% = 1.0–7.19, p < 0.05), respectively; since all mismatch repair proteins (MMR) showed a retained expression and ER, PR, and HER2/neu were negative, they were excluded from further analysis. The cluster analysis identified three and four sub-groups of molecular profiles, respectively, in Group A and B, with no difference in prognosis. The molecular signature of each N and corresponding T diverged significantly in 18/41 (43.9%) cases. Conclusions: Our results support a potential role of immune checkpoint inhibitors and anti-VEGF and anti-EGFR drugs especially in patients with worse prognosis (metastatic, HPV-independent). A panel including EGFR, VEGF, PDL1, p16, and p53 might be performed routinely in primary tumor and repeated in case of lymph node metastases to identify changes in marker expression.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)6373-6391
Numero di pagine19
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021


  • Biostatistics
  • Gynecological cancers
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Molecular targets
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Vulvar cancer


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