Hydatidiform moles: Ancillary techniques to refine diagnosis

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26 Scopus citations


Context.—Distinction of hydatidiform moles from nonmolar specimens and subclassification of hydatidiform moles as complete hydatidiform mole versus partial hydatidiform mole are important for clinical practice and investigational studies. Risk of persistent gestational trophoblastic disease and clinical management differ for these entities. Diagnosis based on morphology is subject to interobserver variability and remains problematic, even for experienced gynecologic pathologists. Objectives.—To explain how ancillary techniques target the unique genetic features of hydatidiform moles to establish diagnostic truth, highlight the issue of diagnostic reproducibility and importance of diagnostic accuracy, and illustrate use of p57 immunohistochemistry and polymerase chain reaction–based DNA genotyping for diagnosis. Data Sources.—Sources are the author’s 10-year experience using ancillary techniques for the evaluation of potentially molar specimens in a large gynecologic pathology practice and the literature. Conclusions.—The unique genetics of complete hydatidiform moles (purely androgenetic), partial hydatidiform moles (diandric triploid), and nonmolar specimens (biparental, with allelic balance) allow for certain techniques, including immunohistochemical analysis of p57 expression (a paternally imprinted, maternally expressed gene) and genotyping, to refine diagnoses of hydatidiform moles. Although p57 immunostaining alone can identify complete hydatidiform moles, which lack p57 expression because of a lack of maternal DNA, this analysis does not distinguish partial hydatidiform moles from nonmolar specimens because both express p57 because of the presence of maternal DNA. Genotyping, which compares villous and decidual DNA patterns to determine the parental source and ratios of polymorphic alleles, distinguishes purely androgenetic complete hydatidiform moles from diandric triploid partial hydatidiform moles, and both of these from biparental nonmolar specimens. An algorithmic approach to diagnosis using these techniques is advocated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1485-1502
Number of pages18
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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