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Perilipin 1 is a highly specific marker for adipocytic differentiation in sarcomas with intermediate sensitivity

  • Original Article – Cancer Research
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Liposarcomas are the most common soft tissue sarcomas of adults. The identification of lipoblastic cells in soft tissue sarcomas is mandatory for the diagnosis of most subtypes of liposarcomas but may be difficult in conventional histology. The present study focuses on the expression and possible diagnostic impact of two PAT family proteins, perilipin 1/perilipin and perilipin 2/adipophilin in human liposarcomas.


Eighty-seven cases of liposarcomas and 30 cases of non-lipomatous sarcomas were investigated immunohistochemically for perilipin 1 and 2 using entire tissue sections. Statistical analyses were performed using appropriate tests.


Most liposarcomas and non-lipomatous sarcomas displayed positivity for perilipin 2. In contrast, while more than two-thirds of liposarcomas presented perilipin 1 positivity, all non-lipomatous sarcomas studied were negative for this marker, with statistical significance (p < 0.001). Perilipin 1 expression increased with adipocytic differentiation of liposarcoma subtypes showing statistical significance (p < 0.001). Non-lipomatous sarcomas demonstrated variable expression levels of perilipin 2. The expression level of perilipin 2 appeared to be correlated with tumor cell degeneration, e.g., through hypoxia.


Perilipin 2 is not well suitable for distinction between liposarcomas and non-lipomatous sarcomas. However, perilipin 1 appeared to be a highly specific marker for liposarcoma and adipocytic differentiation in sarcomas with intermediate sensitivity.

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We thank Stefanie Winter-Simanowski, Anke Holzbach-Röper and Viktoria Wischmann for expert technical assistance. Dr. Raoul Hinze (Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Institute of Pathology, Halle/Saale, present address HELIOS Clinics, Institute of Pathology, Schwerin) was of great help with the recruitment of cases. We also thank Hanna Daniel (Philipps University of Marburg, Institute of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology, Marburg) for helpful advice and comments regarding the statistical analysis and Prof. Dr. Werner W. Franke (Helmholtz Group for Cell Biology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg) for continuous support. CCW is supported by the postdoctoral lecture qualification program of the Anneliese Pohl Foundation, Marburg.


The work was funded by Philipps University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

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Correspondence to Christina C. Westhoff.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Concerning the use of human material, the study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Medical Faculty of the Philipps University of Marburg. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

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Westhoff, C.C., Mrozinski, J., Riedel, I. et al. Perilipin 1 is a highly specific marker for adipocytic differentiation in sarcomas with intermediate sensitivity. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 143, 225–232 (2017).

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