A novel chromogenic in situ hybridization assay for FGF23 mRNA in phosphaturic mesenchymal tumors

Jodi M. Carter, Bolette L. Caron, Ahmet Dogan, Andrew L. Folpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Phosphaturic mesenchymal tumors of the mixed connective tissue type (PMT) are very rare tumors of bone and soft tissues. Most patients with PMT have long-standing osteomalacia secondary to production of fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23), a hormone that inhibits phosphate reuptake within the renal proximal tubule. Previously, we have reported the detection of FGF23 mRNA in PMT by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR); however, the low specificity and risk for nontumoral tissue contamination inherent in PCRbased methodology limit its clinical utility. We evaluated RNAscope as a semiquantitative method of in situ FGF23 mRNA detection in the diagnosis of PMT. Twenty-five PMTs (median 52 y, range 5 to 73 y) occurred in patients with tumorinduced osteomalacia (TIO), manifesting as masses (mean 3.9 cm, range 1.4 to 12 cm) in various bones and soft tissues. FGF23 mRNA was positive in 96% (22/23) informative cases of PMT: 16 cases scored 3+; 5 scored as 2+; 1 scored as 1+. Among these cases, FGF23 mRNA was detected in 3 malignant PMTs along with their metastases. Forty control cases included aneurysmal bone cyst (N=4), chondromyxoid fibroma (N=8), high-grade osteosarcomas (N=8), and (nonfamilial) tumoral calcinosis, as well as miscellaneous cartilage-forming tumors or osteoid-forming tumors and soft tissue tumors. All control cases were negative for FGF23 mRNA in the lesional cells. One aneurysmal bone cyst had rare FGF23 mRNA-expressing osteocytes clustered around remodeled bone. One ovarian serous carcinoma in a patient with disseminated disease, elevated serum FGF23, and TIO was negative for FGF23 mRNA in the neoplastic cells.We conclude that RNAscope is a highly sensitive and specific, semiquantitative in situ hybridization method of FGF23 mRNA detection applicable to formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues. Detection of FGF23 expression is a valuable diagnostic adjunct, especially in patients with occult TIO. Compared with reverse transcription PCR, this method preserves tissue morphology and reduces "false positives" related to detection of endogenous FGF23 mRNA expression by osteocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2015


  • Chromogenic in situ hybridization
  • FGF23
  • Mrna
  • Osteomalacia
  • Phosphaturic mesenchymal tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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