The diagnosis of medulloblastoma incorporates the histologic and molecular subclassification of clinical medulloblastoma samples into wingless (WNT)-activated, sonic hedgehog (SHH)-activated, group 3 and group 4 subgroups. Accurate medulloblastoma subclassification has important prognostic and treatment implications.
Sonic hedgehog medulloblastoma
Medulloblastoma, SHH-activated, and TP53-mutant
Medulloblastoma, SHH-activated, and TP53-wildtype
Group 3 medulloblastoma
Group 4 medulloblastoma
Medulloblastoma histologically defined:
Medulloblastoma, large cell/anaplastic
Immunohistochemistry (IHC)-based and nanoString-based subgrouping methodologies have been independently described as options for medulloblastoma subgrouping, however, they have not previously been directly compared. D’Arcy described the experience with nanoString-based subgrouping in a clinical setting and compare this with our IHC-based results. Study materials included FFPE tissue from 160 medulloblastomas. Clinical data and tumor histology were reviewed. Immunohistochemical-based subgrouping using β-catenin, filamin A and p53 antibodies and nanoString-based gene expression profiling was performed. The sensitivity and specificity of IHC-based subgrouping of WNT and SHH-activated medulloblastomas was 91.5% and 99.54%, respectively. Filamin A immunopositivity highly correlated with SHH/WNT-activated subgroups (sensitivity 100%, specificity 92.7%, p < 0.001). Nuclear β-catenin immunopositivity had a sensitivity of 76.2% and specificity of 99.23% for the detection of WNT-activated tumors. Approximately 23.8% of WNT cases would have been missed using an IHC-based subgrouping method alone. nanoString could confidently predict medulloblastoma subgroup in 93% of cases and could distinguish group 3/4 subgroups in 96.3% of cases. nanoString-based subgrouping allows for a more prognostically useful classification of clinical medulloblastoma samples 1).
Molecular subgrouping was performed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) for beta catenin, GAB1 and YAP1; FISH for MYC amplification, and sequencing for CTNNB1, and by NanoString Assay on the same set of MBs. A subset of cases was subjected to 850k DNA methylation array.
IHC + FISH classified MBs into 15.8% WNT, 16.8% SHH, and 67.4% non-WNT/non-SHH subgroups; with MYC amplification identified in 20.3% cases of non-WNT/non-SHH. NanoString successfully classified 91.6% MBs into 25.3% WNT, 17.2% SHH, 23% Group 3 and 34.5% Group 4. However, NanoString assay failure was seen in eight cases, all of which were > 8-years-old formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue blocks. Concordant subgroup assignment was noted in 88.5% cases, while subgroup switching was seen in 11.5% cases. Both methods showed prognostic correlation. Methylation profiling performed on discordant cases revealed 1 out of 4 extra WNT identified by NanoString to be WNT, others aligned with IHC subgroups; extra SHH by NanoString turned out to be SHH by methylation.
Both IHC supplemented by FISH and NanoString are robust methods for molecular subgrouping, albeit with few disadvantages. IHC cannot differentiate between Groups 3 and 4, while NanoString cannot classify older-archived tumors, and is not available at most centres. Thus, both the methods complement each other and can be used in concert for high confidence allotment of molecular subgroups in clinical practice 2).