A mosaic pattern of INI1/SMARCB1 protein expression distinguishes Schwannomatosis and NF2-associated peripheral schwannomas from solitary peripheral schwannomas and NF2-associated vestibular schwannomas



The INI1/SMARCB1 gene protein product has been implicated in the direct pathogenesis of schwannomas from patients with one form of schwannomatosis [SWNTS1; MIM # 162091] showing a mosaic pattern of loss of protein expression by immunohistochemistry [93% in familial vs. 55% in sporadic cases].

Aim of study

To verify whether such INI1/SMARCB1 mosaic pattern could be extended to all schwannomas arising in the sporadic and familial schwannomatoses [i.e. to SMARCB1-related (SWNTS1) or LZTR1-related (SWNTS2) schwannomatosis or to SMARCB1/LZTR1-negative schwannomatosis] and whether it could be involved in classical NF2 or solitary peripheral schwannomas


We blindly analysed schwannoma samples obtained from a total of 22 patients including (a) 2 patients (2 males; aged 38 and 55 years) affected by non-familial SMARCB1-associated schwannomatosis (SWTNS1); (b) 1 patient (1 female; aged 33 years) affected by familial schwannomatosis (SWTNS1/ SMARCB1 germ line mutations); (c) 5 patients (3 males, 2 females; aged 33 to 35 years) affected by non-familial (sporadic) LZTR1-associated schwannomatosis (SWNTS2); (d) 3 patients (3 males; aged 35 to 47 years) affected by familial schwannomatosis (SWTNS2/ LZTR1 germ line mutations); (e) 2 patients (1 male, 1 female; aged 63 and 49 years, respectively) affected by non-familial schwannomatosis (SWTNS, negative for SMARCB1, LZTR1 and NF2 gene mutations); (f) 4 patients (3 males, 1 females; aged 15 to 24 years) affected by classical NF2 (NF2: harbouring NF2 germ line mutations; and (g) 5 patients (3 males, 2 females; aged 33 to 68 years) who had solitary schwannomas. [follow-up = 15–30 years; negative for constitutional/somatic mutation analysis for the SMARCB1, LZTR1 and NF2 genes] were (blindly) analyzed. The INI1/SMARCB1 immunostaining pattern was regarded as (1) diffuse positive nuclear staining [= retained expression] or (2) mosaic pattern [mixed positive/negative nuclei = loss of expression in a subset of tumour cells].


All solitary peripheral schwannomas and NF2-associated vestibular schwannomas showed diffuse nuclear INI1/SMARCB1 staining in 97–100% of neoplastic cells; schwannomas obtained from all cases of non-familial and familial schwannomatosis and NF2-associated non-vestibular schwannomas showed a mosaic pattern ranging from 10 to 70% of INI1/SMARCB1-positive expression. We did not record a complete lack of nuclear staining.


The present data suggests that (a) mosaic loss of immunohistochemical INI1/SMARCB1 expression, despite the interlesional variability, is a reliable marker of schwannomatosis regardless of the involved gene and it might help in the differential diagnosis of schwannomatosis vs. solitary schwannomas and (b) INI1/SMARCB1 expression is not useful in the differential with mosaic NF2, since NF2-associated peripheral schwannomas show the same immunohistochemical pattern.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Martino Ruggieri.

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Written informed consent was obtained from parents or guardians of all recruited individuals. The study was approved by the Ethical Committee [Catania 1], located at the University Hospital (AOU) “Policlinico-Vittorio Emanuele” in Catania, Italy.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Caltabiano, R., Magro, G., Polizzi, A. et al. A mosaic pattern of INI1/SMARCB1 protein expression distinguishes Schwannomatosis and NF2-associated peripheral schwannomas from solitary peripheral schwannomas and NF2-associated vestibular schwannomas. Childs Nerv Syst 33, 933–940 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00381-017-3340-2

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  • Schwannomatosis
  • Neurofibromatosis type 2
  • NF2
  • LZTR1
  • INI1
  • Mosaicism
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Histology
  • Immunohistochemistry