Role of the biomarker p16 in downgrading-IN 2 diagnoses and predicting higher-grade lesions

Kruti P. Maniar*, Beatriz Sanchez, Ajit Paintal, Demirkan B. Gursel, Ritu Nayar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


In 2012, the College of American Pathologists and American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology published the "LAST" recommendations for histopathology reporting of human papilloma virus-related squamous lesions of the lower anogenital tract, including the use of a 2-tier nomenclature (low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion/high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion [LSIL/HSIL]) and expanded use of the biomarker p16 to classify equivocal lesions as either precancer (HSIL) or low-grade lesions (LSIL)/non-human papilloma virus changes. We aimed to determine (1) the frequency with which the poorly reproducible diagnosis of intermediate-grade (-IN 2) lesion in the lower anogenital tract would be downgraded on the basis of p16 results, and (2) whether p16 status was predictive of subsequent higher-grade lesions. A total of 200 specimens diagnosed as an intermediate-grade (-IN 2) lesion of the cervix (168), vagina (2), vulva (2), and anus (28) were reviewed and immunostained for p16. Slides were independently reviewed by 2 pathologists, with discrepant p16 interpretations adjudicated by a third pathologist. Of the 200 cases, 32% were negative for p16. Among the 166 patients with subsequent pathology (including 131 excisions), 26.2% of p16-positive cases versus 4.4% of p16-negative cases were associated with a subsequent diagnosis of HSIL (-IN 3) or worse (P=0.002). Reproducibility of the biopsy diagnosis was fair, with no significant difference with the addition of p16 or using 2 versus 3 tiers. In 11.5% of cases, there was discordance in p16 interpretation (κ 0.735, good agreement). The results indicate that using the Lower Anogenital Squamous Terminology recommendations would result in approximately one third of equivocal (-IN 2) diagnoses being downgraded to LSIL over 1 year in a busy academic practice. The significant association of p16 expression with a higher risk for HSIL on a subsequent specimen suggests that use of p16 to adjudicate equivocal (-IN 2) diagnoses in lower anogenital tract specimens as either LSIL or HSIL would likely predict lesion grade more accurately and avoid unnecessary excisional procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1708-1718
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • AIN 2
  • CIN 2
  • Lower Anogenital Squamous Terminology (LAST) project
  • VAIN 2
  • VIN 2
  • intraepithelial neoplasia
  • p16ink4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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