Pediatric Mesothelioma with ALK Fusions: A Molecular and Pathologic Study of 5 Cases

Pedram Argani, Derrick W.Q. Lian, Abbas Agaimy, Markus Metzler, Sara E. Wobker, Andres Matoso, Jonathan I. Epstein, Yun Shao Sung, Lei Zhang, Cristina R. Antonescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pediatric mesotheliomas are rare and their pathogenesis remains undefined. In this study, we report 5 cases of malignant mesothelioma in children, characterized by fusions involving the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. Four cases occurred in females involving the abdominal cavity and were characterized by a pure epithelioid morphology. The fifth arose in the tunica vaginalis of a 15-year-old male and displayed a biphasic epithelioid-sarcomatoid phenotype. All cases demonstrated the classic morphologic and immunohistochemical features of malignant mesothelioma, including tubulopapillary architecture and cuboidal epithelioid cells with eosinophilic cytoplasm and uniform nuclei with vesicular chromatin. Immunohistochemically, all cases showed labeling for ALK, cytokeratins, WT1, and calretinin, while lacking expression of adenocarcinoma immunomarkers. Four cases demonstrated weak-moderate labeling for PAX8 protein, which resulted in diagnostic challenges with primary peritoneal serous carcinoma. The ALK genetic abnormalities were investigated by a combination of molecular methods. Archer FusionPlex was performed in 2 cases, showing fusions between ALK with either STRN or TPM1 genes, resulting in a transcript that retained the ALK kinase domain. One case was further studied by DNA targeted sequencing, but no additional genetic alterations were observed. In 1 case, cytogenetic analysis showed the presence of a t(2;15)(p23;q22) and fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed the ALK gene break-apart. In the remaining 2 cases, ALK gene rearrangements were demonstrated by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Unlike adult mesotheliomas, which are tightly linked to asbestos exposure, often show loss of BAP1 expression and have complex karyotypes, ALK-rearranged mesothelioma appears to be similar to other fusion-positive mesotheliomas, such as those harboring EWSR1/FUS-ATF1 fusions, sharing significant morphologic overlap, occurring in young patients and displaying a simple, translocation-driven genetic profile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-661
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • ALK
  • mesothelioma
  • translocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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