Loss of p57 Expression in Conceptions Other Than Complete Hydatidiform Mole: A Case Series with Emphasis on the Etiology, Genetics, and Clinical Significance

Deyin Xing, Karin Miller, Katie Beierl, Brigitte M. Ronnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Combined p57 immunohistochemistry and DNA genotyping refines classification of products of conception specimens into specific types of hydatidiform moles and various nonmolar entities that can simulate them. p57 expression is highly correlated with genotyping and in practice can reliably be used to identify virtually all complete hydatidiform moles (CHM), but aberrant retained or lost p57 expression in rare CHMs and partial hydatidiform moles (PHM), as well as loss in some nonmolar abortuses, has been reported. Among a series of 2329 products of conceptions, we identified 10 cases for which loss of p57 expression was inconsistent with genotyping results (none purely androgenetic). They displayed a spectrum of generally mild abnormal villous morphology but lacked better developed features of CHMs/early CHMs, although some did suggest subtle forms of the latter. For 5 cases, genotyping (4 cases) and/or ancillary testing (1 case) determined a mechanism for the aberrant p57 results. These included 3 PHMs - 2 diandric triploid and 1 triandric tetraploid - and 1 nonmolar specimen with loss of p57 expression attributable to partial or complete loss of the maternal copy of chromosome 11 and 1 nonmolar specimen with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. For 5 cases, including 2 diandric triploid PHMs and 3 biparental nonmolar specimens, genotyping did not identify a mechanism, likely due to other genetic alterations which are below the resolution of or not targeted by genotyping. While overdiagnosis of a PHM as a CHM may cause less harm since appropriate follow-up with serum β-human chorionic gonadotropin levels would take place for both diagnoses, this could cause longer than necessary follow-up due to the expectation of a much greater risk of persistent gestational trophoblastic disease for CHM compared with PHM, which would be unfounded for the correct diagnosis of PHM. Overdiagnosis of a nonmolar abortus with loss of p57 expression as a CHM would lead to unnecessary follow-up and restriction on pregnancy attempts for patients with infertility. Genotyping is valuable for addressing discordance between p57 expression and morphology but cannot elucidate certain mechanisms of lost p57 expression. Future studies are warranted to determine whether chromosomal losses or gains, particularly involving imprinted genes such as p57, might play a role in modifying the risk of persistent gestational trophoblastic disease for PHMs and nonmolar conceptions that are not purely androgenetic but have some abnormal paternal imprinting of the type seen in CHMs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-32
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • genotyping
  • hydatidiform mole
  • p57 immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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