Alterations of the p16INK4a/Rb/cyclin-D1 pathway in vulvar carcinoma, vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia, and lichen sclerosus

Enrique Lerma, Manel Esteller, James G. Herman, Jaime Prat

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Three different alterations in the p16/pRb/cyclin-D1 pathway (p16INK4a-promoter hypermethylation and expression of pRb and cyclin-D1) were investigated in a series of 38 cases of vulvar carcinoma (VC), 13 cases of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN), and 21 cases of lichen sclerosus (LS). Paraffin blocks from 72 patients were selected for investigation of DNA methylation patterns in the CpG island of p16INK4a by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction. Immunohistochemical studies for pRb and cyclin-D1 were performed using the standard avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex method. Epigenetic silencing of p16INK4a was detected in 68% of VC, 69.2% of VIN, and 42.8% of LS cases. Lack of pRb protein was found in 21% of VC, 0% of VIN, and 0% of LS cases. Overexpression of cyclin-D1 was found in 21% of VC, 30.8% of VIN, and 0% of LS cases. We conclude (1) that p16INK4a epigenetic inactivation most likely represents an early event, insufficient for malignant transformation, that may occur in clinically benign lesions such as LS; (2) that lack of pRb was only detected in fewer than one quarter of the carcinomas and could be considered a late secondary event; and (3) that cyclin-D1, which was overexpressed in VC and VIN, could contribute to the malignant transformation in association with p16 hypermethylation. Copyright 2002, Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1120-1125
JournalHuman Pathology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2002


  • Cell cycle
  • Cyclin D1
  • Hypermethylation
  • Lichen sclerosus
  • P16
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Vulva
  • Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia
  • Vulvar neoplasia
  • pRb


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