Histological diagnosis of differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (dVIN), the precursor of human papillomavirus (HPV)-independent vulvar squamous cell carcinoma (VSCC), can be challenging, as features of dVIN may mimic those of non-dysplastic dermatoses. To aid the diagnosis, p53-immunohistochemistry (IHC) is commonly used, and mutant expression patterns are used to support a histological diagnosis of dVIN. However, a proportion of dVIN can show wild-type p53-expression, which is characteristic of non-dysplastic dermatoses. Furthermore, recent research has identified a novel precursor of HPV-independent VSCC—the p53-wild-type differentiated exophytic vulvar intraepithelial lesion (de-VIL). Currently, there are no established diagnostic IHC-markers for p53-wild-type dVIN or de-VIL. We evaluated IHC-markers, cytokeratin 17 (CK17), and SRY-box 2 (SOX2), as diagnostic adjuncts for dVIN. For this, IHC-expression of CK17, SOX2, and p53 was studied in dVIN (n = 56), de-VIL (n = 8), and non-dysplastic vulvar tissues (n = 46). For CK17 and SOX2, the percentage of cells showing expression, and the intensity and distribution of expression were recorded. We also performed next generation targeted sequencing (NGTS) on a subset of dVIN (n = 8) and de-VIL (n = 8). With p53-IHC, 74% of dVIN showed mutant patterns and 26% showed wild-type expression. Median percentage of cells expressing CK17 or SOX2 was significantly higher in dVIN (p53-mutant or p53-wild-type) and de-VIL than in non-dysplastic tissues (p < 0.01). Diffuse, moderate-to-strong, full epithelial expression of CK17 or SOX2 was highly specific for dVIN and de-VIL. With NGTS, TP53 mutations were detected in both dVIN and de-VIL. We infer that immunohistochemical markers CK17 and SOX2, when used along with p53, may help support the histological diagnosis of dVIN.
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