Journal of Laboratory Physicians
Home About us Ahead of print Current issue Back issues Subscribe Instructions Contact Login 
Wide layoutNarrow layoutPrint this page  Email this page Bookmark this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size 

   Table of Contents     
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 55-57  

Primary pulmonary poorly differentiated synovial sarcoma: Transducer-like enhancer of split 1 immunohistochemistry as a valuable diagnostic aid

1 Department of Pathology, Command Hospital (WC), Chandimandir, Panchkula, Haryana, India
2 Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
3 Department of Pathology, Base Hospital, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication1-Aug-2013

Correspondence Address:
Amulyajit Kaur
Department of Pathology, Command Hospital (WC), Chandimandir, Panchkula, Haryana
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: The Geraldine Colby Zeiler Pulmonary Cytology and Pulmonary Pathology Fellowship Program", Mayo Clinic, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-2727.115922

Rights and Permissions

Poorly differentiated primary pulmonary synovial sarcomas are rare and challenging for a surgical pathologist to diagnose. Although the demonstration of the tumor specific translocation, t (x; 18)(p11.2;q11.2) or the resultant fusion gene (SYT-SSX) is the gold standard for diagnosis, this test is not always accessible. We report the use of immunohistochemistry, including transducer-like enhancer of split-1 in the diagnosis of one such tumor in a young individual.

Keywords: Lung, synovial sarcoma, transducer-like enhancer of split-1

How to cite this article:
Kaur A, Tazelaar HD, Sahai K. Primary pulmonary poorly differentiated synovial sarcoma: Transducer-like enhancer of split 1 immunohistochemistry as a valuable diagnostic aid. J Lab Physicians 2013;5:55-7

How to cite this URL:
Kaur A, Tazelaar HD, Sahai K. Primary pulmonary poorly differentiated synovial sarcoma: Transducer-like enhancer of split 1 immunohistochemistry as a valuable diagnostic aid. J Lab Physicians [serial online] 2013 [cited 2019 Dec 15];5:55-7. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Although synovial sarcomas are better known to occur in the soft-tissues, these are now being increasingly recognized in the lungs as well. Primary pulmonary synovial sarcomas; however, are very rare neoplasms in the lung and pleura and have been reported to comprise less than 0.5% of pulmonary neoplasms. [1],[2] Histologically these tend to mimic other tumors at this site. The poorly differentiated variant is even more rare with only isolated case reports or small series reported in literature. [3] These are difficult to diagnose solely on the basis of the histology. In such cases, molecular techniques and the recently developed transducer-like enhancer of split 1 (TLE-1) antibody for use with immunohistochemistry (IHC) have both proved useful in arriving at the correct diagnosis. [4],[5] We report one such case.

   Case Report Top

A 26-year old male presented with an increasing breathlessness over the previous 15 days accompanied by an episode of hemoptysis. On examination, he was moderately built, had low grade fever and absent breath sounds in the right lower chest. On investigation, hemoglobin and the blood counts were in normal range. Chest radiograph revealed features suggestive of a mass lesion with well-defined margins within the right lower lobe. This was followed by a high resolution computerized tomogram, which further confirmed the presence of the mass and showed it to be pulmonary and not pleural in nature. A lobectomy resection was carried out as he was determined to have no other primary site of tumor.

Gross examination revealed a heavy boggy right lower lobe with a congested pleural surface. On sectioning, a well-defined fleshy mass (13 × 12 × 5 cm) with areas of necrosis and hemorrhage involving almost the entire lower lobe was present. The mass seemed to involve the medial aspect of the lobe including the hilar area with some residual remnant of parent lung in the periphery [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Cut section of the excised tumor reveals a fleshy mass with areas of hemorrhage and necrosis

Click here to view

Microscopy revealed a cellular unencapsulated neoplasm with tumor cells in vague lobulated sheets with pushing margins [Figure 2]a. The compact spindle cells most characteristic of synovial sarcoma were largely absent. In most areas, the cells appeared small and round with round to ovoid nuclei and a small amount of eosinophilic cytoplasm [Figure 2]d. In only a few areas was their some degree of spindling with cells growing in fascicular arrays [Figure 2]c. In places, the cells were in nests separated by fine branching staghorn or hemangiopericytomatous type blood vessels [Figure 2]b. Mitosis was brisk (10-14 mitosis/10 HPF). Large areas of geographic necrosis were also present. The differential diagnosis considered based on an initial histology included a neuroendocrine tumor, Ewing's sarcoma, peripheral neuroectodermal tumor (PNET), solitary fibrous tumor, and poorly differentiated synovial sarcoma.
Figure 2: Photomicrographs of the neoplasm showing (a) fairly monomorphic tumor cells in vague lobulated sheets with pushing margins (H and E, ×100), (b) fine branching blood vessels separating the tumor nests (H and E, ×200), (c) areas of spindling and fascicular array (H and E, ×200), (d) monomorphic poorly differentiated round cells in sheets with brisk mitosis (H and E, ×400)

Click here to view

Immunoperoxidase studies on paraffin embedded tissue revealed the neoplastic cells to be focally reactive with antibodies to pancytokeratin along with reactivity for epithelial membrane antibody in approximately 25% of the cells. They failed to react with antibodies to thyroid transcription factor 1 (TTF-1), synaptophysin, smooth muscle actin, S 100 protein, CAM5.2, CD99, chromogranin, CD45 and CD34. With the above IHC findings, a poorly differentiated synovial sarcoma was considered most likely and a TLE-1 stain was carried out, which revealed diffuse nuclear reactivity of the tumor cells [Figure 3]. This stain provided the definitive diagnosis of a synovial sarcoma. The patient was subjected to chemotherapy; however, over the next 4 months, he developed extensive metastatic disease and eventually succumbed to his illness.
Figure 3: Immunohistochemical profile shows (a) focal positivity for pancytokeratin (b) more reactivity for epithelial membrane antibody (c) CD34 highlights the hemangiopericytomatous pattern of the blood vessels with the negative reaction of the tumor cells. (d) Tumor cells show diffuse nuclear positivity for transducer-like enhancer of split - 1 (DAB, ×200)

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

A primary pulmonary synovial sarcoma, even if exhibiting its classic biphasic histology, poses diagnostic problems in the lungs because of the possibility of entrapped pulmonary epithelium being misconstrued as epithelial elements of the tumor. [6] Poorly differentiated synovial sarcomas are known to further pose a challenge for definitive diagnosis based on microscopy alone. These tumors mimic round cell tumors on histomorphology. Hence, it becomes imperative to differentiate between the various mimics in this group. Molecular techniques comprising of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, in situ hybridization for the SYT-SSX fusion gene and karyotyping for t (x; 18) translocation remain the gold standard for diagnosis, but these are expensive, not easily available at most centers and in some laboratories require frozen sections. [7] Lately, there is evidence that TLE-1 immunoreactivity can help resolve the dilemma. This provides a new more specific marker for diagnosis of this rare highly aggressive neoplasm. [8] TLE-1 is a member of the groucho/TLE gene family involved in beta-catenin signaling pathway and encodes a corepressor implicated in neuronal and epithelial differentiation. [9] It has been found to be significantly expressed in synovial sarcomas with a sensitivity of 82% and specificity of 92%. [10] TLE-1 in the same study has also been found to be expressed in 8% of solitary fibrous tumors and in 15% of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. Ewing's sarcoma and primitive neuroectodermal tumors have not been reported to react with TLE-1.

We encountered a primary round cell tumor in the lung that did not resemble a lymphoma on histomorphology. IHC for leukocyte common antigen ascertained the same. The differential diagnosis of a Ewing's sarcoma or a PNET, neuroendocrine tumor, and a solitary fibrous tumor were also considered. Immunoperoxidase stains helped negate most of the histologic mimics. TLE-1 was found to be reactive and yielded the final answer. The patient; however, succumbed to the rapidly progressive metastatic disease, he developed thereafter.

This case highlights the utility of TLE-1 in the diagnosis of poorly differentiated synovial sarcomas. We emphasize it as an essential tool in the immunohistochemical laboratory armamentarium especially in centers where molecular techniques are not easily available. These highly aggressive neoplasms when encountered at relatively inaccessible sites like the lungs should be detected at an early stage. A biopsy and further usage of relevant IHC panel inclusive of TLE-1 would be an endeavor to aid diagnosis and perhaps promote further research for yet elusive definitive targeted therapy for these neoplasms.

   References Top

1.Mankin HJ, Hornicek FJ. Diagnosis, classification, and management of soft tissue sarcomas. Cancer Control 2005;12:5-21.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Essary LR, Vargas SO, Fletcher CD. Primary pleuropulmonary synovial sarcoma: Reappraisal of a recently described anatomic subset. Cancer 2002;94:459-69.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Van de Rijn M, Barr FG, Xiong QB, Hedges M, Shipley J, Fisher C. Poorly differentiated synovial sarcoma: An analysis of clinical, pathologic, and molecular genetic features. Am J Surg Pathol 1999;23:106-12.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Aubry MC, Bridge JA, Wickert R, Tazelaar HD. Primary monophasic synovial sarcoma of the pleura: Five cases confirmed by the presence of SYT-SSX fusion transcript. Am J Surg Pathol 2001;25:776-81.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Knösel T, Heretsch S, Altendorf-Hofmann A, Richter P, Katenkamp K, Katenkamp D, et al. TLE1 is a robust diagnostic biomarker for synovial sarcomas and correlates with t (X; 18): Analysis of 319 cases. Eur J Cancer 2010;46:1170-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Zeren H, Moran CA, Suster S, Fishback NF, Koss MN. Primary pulmonary sarcomas with features of monophasic synovial sarcoma: A clinicopathological, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural study of 25 cases. Hum Pathol 1995;26:474-80.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Okamoto S, Hisaoka M, Daa T, Hatakeyama K, Iwamasa T, Hashimoto H. Primary pulmonary synovial sarcoma: A clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical, and molecular study of 11 cases. Hum Pathol 2004;35:850-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Lino-Silva LS, Flores-Gutiérrez JP, Vilches-Cisneros N, Domínguez-Malagón HR. TLE-1 is expressed in the majority of primary pleuropulmonary synovial sarcomas. Virchows Arch 2011;459:615-21.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Jennings BH, Pickles LM, Wainwright SM, Roe SM, Pearl LH, Ish-Horowicz D. Molecular recognition of transcriptional repressor motifs by the WD domain of the Groucho/TLE corepressor. Mol Cell 2006;22:645-55.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Foo WC, Cruise MW, Wick MR, Hornick JL. Immunohistochemical staining for TLE1 distinguishes synovial sarcoma from histologic mimics. Am J Clin Pathol 2011;135:839-44.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]


    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded83    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal