The American journal of surgical pathology

Utility of paraffin section immunohistochemistry for C-KIT (CD117) in the differential diagnosis of systemic mast cell disease involving the bone marrow.

PMID 10632491


Systemic mast cell disease is characterized by an abnormal infiltration of mast cells involving several parenchymal organs and the bone marrow. Its spectrum of clinical and histologic presentation is highly variable and is not necessarily correlated with prognosis. Mast cell disorders presenting as atypical infiltrates in the bone marrow may simulate or be associated with other hematolymphoid malignancies, from which they must be distinguished. The paucity of reliable histochemical and immunohistochemical markers for the detection of mast cells in paraffin sections further confounds this diagnosis. The authors have employed immunohistochemistry for the C-KIT encoded tyrosine kinase receptor protein, CD117, for detection of mast cells on paraffin sections of 89 bone marrow specimens including systemic mast cell disease and other disorders. CD117 staining was found in all cases of mast cell disorders (seven of seven), and in one case of chronic myelogenous leukemia in blast crisis. None of the other myeloid disorders tested (0 of 16), or any of the cases of Hodgkin's disease (0 of 12), B-cell lymphomas (0 of 32), T-cell lymphomas (0 of 3), or histiocytic proliferations (0 of 3) showed staining for CD117. CD117 expression is effective in the separation of mast cell disease from disorders that may simulate it histologically.