Differential diagnosis of vacuolar muscle biopsies: use of p62, lc3 and lamp2 immunohistochemistry

Elisa Vittonatto 1, Silvia Boschi 2, 4, Loredana Chiadò-Piat 1, Valentina Ponzalino 1, Sara Bortolani 1, Chiara Brusa 3, Innocenzo Rainero 2, Federica Ricci 3, Liliana Vercelli 1 and Tiziana Mongini 1

1 Center for Neuromuscular Diseases “Paolo Peirolo”, Department of Neuroscience “Rita Levi Montalcini”, University of Turin, Italy; 2 Neurology 1, Department of Neuroscience “Rita Levi Montalcini”, University of Turin, Italy; 3 Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, Regina Margherita Children Hospital, Turin, Italy; 4 Department of Neuroscience, Psychology, Drug Research and Child Health (NEUROFARBA), University of Florence, Italy

Intrafibral vacuoles are the morphological hallmark in a wide variety of human skeletal muscle disorders with different etiology. In most cases, differential diagnosis is feasible with a routine histochemical work up of muscle biopsy. Ultrastructural analysis is an important confirmatory tool, but it is not widely available. Immunohistochemical stainings for p62, LAMP2 and LC3 are commonly available as tissutal marker for autophagy. We compared the immunohistochemical patterns for autophagic markers p62, LC3 and LAMP2 with routine histochemical markers in 39 biopsies from patients with definite diagnoses of glycogen storage disease type 2 (LOPD or Pompe disease, PD), sporadic inclusion body myositis (sIBM), oculo-pharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) and necrotizing myopathy (NM). Moreover, we also analyzed muscles of 10 normal controls. In PD group, LC3 and LAMP2 showed an higher percentage of positive fibers, whereas p62 was limited to a minority of fibers, thus paralleling the results of histochemical stainings; in NM group, LAMP2 and LC-3 were diffusely and unspecifically expressed in necrotic fibers, with p62 significantly expressed only in two cases. OPMD biopsies did not reveal any significant positivity. The most interesting results were observed in sIBM group, where p62 was expressed in all cases, even in fibers without other markers positivity. There results, although limited to a small number of cases, suggest that the contemporary use of p62, LAMP2 and LC-3 staining may have an adjunctive role in characterizing muscle fiber vacuoles, revealing autophagic pathway activation and providing further clues for the understanding of pathogenetic mechanisms.

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