Lack of expression of c-kit protein (CD117) in mesenchymal tumors of the uterus and ovary

Walter M. Klein, Robert J. Kurman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


c-kit is a proto-oncogene that codes for a transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptor (CD117). The gene product KIT is constitutively overexpressed in mastocytosis and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Recently the use of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as STI-571, has resulted in the successful treatment of bcr-abl-positive leukemias and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. In gastrointestinal stromal tumors, immunostaining for c-kit is diffusely positive. Because the expression of c-kit in mesenchymal tumors of the uterus and ovary has not been previously studied, we evaluated its expression in 38 of these tumors by immunohistochemistry. The number of positive labeled/total tumors were as follows: 0/8 malignant mullerian mixed tumors, 4/7 ovarian fibrosarcomas, 0/1 clear-cell ovarian sarcoma, 0/4 uterine leiomyosarcomas, 1/10 low-grade endometrial stromal sarcomas, 0/2 high-grade endometrial stromal sarcomas, and 3/6 endometrial stromal nodules. In all positive cases, no more than 5% of the cells were labeled. In conclusion, unlike gastrointestinal stromal tumors, mesenchymal tumors of the uterus and ovary rarely express c-kit. Therefore, it is unlikely that patients with these tumors will benefit from treatment with the currently available tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-184
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecological Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003



  • Mesenchymal tumors
  • Ovary
  • Uterus
  • c-kit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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