Reliable Identification of Endometrial Precancers Through Combined Pax2, β-Catenin, and Pten Immunohistochemistry

Mitzi Aguilar, Hao Chen, Glorimar Rivera-Colon, Shuang Niu, Kelley Carrick, Katja Gwin, Ileana C. Cuevas, Subhransu S. Sahoo, Hao Dong Li, Song Zhang, Wenxin Zheng, Elena Lucas, Diego H. Castrillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The diagnosis of endometrial atypical hyperplasia/endometrioid intraepithelial neoplasia (AH/EIN) remains challenging and subjective in some cases, with variable histologic criteria and differences of opinion among gynecologic pathologists, potentially leading to under/overtreatment. There has been growing interest in the use of specific immunohistochemical markers as adjuncts in AH/EIN diagnosis. For example, the World Health Organization 2020 Classification specifies that loss of Pten, Pax2, or mismatch repair proteins are desirable diagnostic criteria. Other markers, most notably β-catenin and Arid1a, are also aberrantly expressed in some AH/EIN. However, the performance of some markers individually - and more importantly as a group - has not been rigorously explored, raising questions as to which marker(s) or combination(s) is the most effective in practice. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue sections from AH/EIN cases (n=111) were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for 6 markers: Pax2, Pten, Mlh1, β-catenin, Arid1a, and p53. Aberrant expression was tabulated for each case and marker. An additional set of normal endometria (n=79) was also analyzed to define optimal diagnostic criteria for marker aberrance. The performance characteristics of each marker, the entire panel, and subsets thereof were quantitatively and statistically analyzed. In order of number of cases detected, the most frequently aberrant markers in AH/EIN were Pax2 (81.1% of cases), Pten (50.5%), β-catenin (47.7%), Arid1a (7.2%), Mlh1 (4.5%), and p53 (2.7%). The majority of cases showed aberrant expression of ≥2 markers. All 6 markers together identified 92.8% of cases. Arid1a, Mlh1, and p53 were robust and readily scored markers, but all cases showing aberrant expression of these 3 markers were also detected by Pax2, Pten, or β-catenin. A focused panel of only 3 markers (Pax2, Pten, and β-catenin) showed optimal performance characteristics as a diagnostic adjunct in the histopathologic diagnosis of AH/EIN. Use of this panel is practicable and robust, with at least 1 of the 3 markers being aberrant in 92.8% of AH/EIN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-414
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Arid1a
  • Mlh1
  • Pax2
  • Pten
  • atypical endometrial hyperplasia
  • endometrioid intraepithelial neoplasia
  • immunohistochemistry
  • p53
  • β-catenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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