Differential expression of p53 and Ki-67 proteins in classic and iatrogenic Kaposi's sarcoma

Emmilia Hodak*, Ilan Hammel, Meora Feinmesser, Almog Zelinger, Lea Maron, Jaqueline Sulkes, Michael David

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many neoplasms, the finding p53 immunoreactivity correlates with striking cytologic atypia, a high tumor cell proliferation rate, and poor prognosis. The literature regarding p53 and Ki-67 (a nuclear proliferation- associated antigen) immunoreactivity in Kaposi's sarcoma is limited. We aimed to: (1) evaluate the role of p53 in the development of Kaposi's sarcoma; (2) determine whether there is a correlation between p53 and Ki-67 protein expression; and (3) determine possible differences between classical Kaposi's sarcoma, known usually to have a benign course, and iatrogenic Kaposi's sarcoma, the course of which is unpredictable, by studying the differential expression of p53 and Ki-67. Among 26 cases of classic KS and 19 of iatrogenic KS, 12 were classified histopathologically as early type and 33 as mixed or spindle-cell type. P53 and Ki-67 immunoreactivity correlated significantly with the histopathologic stage of KS (r = 0.63, p = 0.0001; r = 0.42, p = 0.0084, respectively). P53 was not detected in any of the cases in an early histopathologic stage but was present in 55% of the cases in a more advanced stage. The spindle cells increased in proportion with the histopathologic progression and were more often positive (p = 0.019) and displayed more extensive staining than the endothelial cells (p = 0.0001). There was a strong positive correlation between p53 and Ki-67 protein expression (r = 0.43, p = 0.0087). There was no correlation between the expression of either p53 or Ki-67 and the extent of the eruption. The expression of p53 and Ki-67 was significantly lower in iatrogenic cases than in the classic cases (p = 0.009, p = 0.0014, respectively), although no statistical difference was found between the histopathologic stages in the two clinical forms of KS. P53 immunoreactivity was detected in 79% of the cases of classic Kaposi's sarcoma in the mixed or spindle cell stage but in only 21.5% of the iatrogenic cases showing the same histopathologic stage (p = 0.001), and the percentage of spindle cells as well as the endothelial cells expressing p53 was higher in the classic cases than in the iatrogenic cases (p = 0.0032, p = 0.0142, respectively). We conclude that p53 immunoexpression is a marker of tumor progression in classic Kaposi's sarcoma but not in most cases of iatrogenic Kaposi's sarcoma. The proliferative activity of the tumor cells in classic Kaposi's sarcoma is much higher than in iatrogenic Kaposi's sarcoma. Our work implies that the molecular steps involved in classic and iatrogenic Kaposi's sarcoma differ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Dermatopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Classic Kaposi's sarcoma
  • Iatrogenic Kaposi's sarcoma
  • Ki-67 protein expression
  • P53 protein expression


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