Histomorphometric analysis of pre- and post-denosumab-treated giant cell tumor of bone

Document Type



Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Orthopaedic Surgery


Context: Denosumab is a monoclonal antibody against RANK ligand. Its administration in giant cell tumor of bone (GCTB) cases results in elimination of giant cells and new bone formation. Neoplastic stromal cells of GCTB harbor mutation of histone 3.3 and have pre-osteoblastic properties and thus express SATB2.
Objectives: To (1) analyze histological changes in post-denosumab-treated GCTB, (2) analyze expression of H3.3G34W and SATB2 in pre- and post-denosumab-treated samples, and (3) to discuss why changes occur in the expression of not only H3.3G34W but also SATB2.
Materials and Methods: Hematoxylin and eosin slides of 19 cases of denosumab-treated GCTB were reviewed. Immunohistochemical stains H3.3G34W and SATB2 were performed. The number of positive mononuclear cells were counted and graded.
Results: Complete absence of osteoclast-like giant cells (OCLGCs) was noted in most cases along with a fibro-osseous component merging with peripheral shell of reactive bone. Irregular trabeculae of woven bone and osteoid with focal osteoblastic rimming was seen. Spindle cells were arranged predominantly in fascicular pattern. Morphometric analysis of H3.3G34W showed a mean of 68.8% positive stromal cells in pretreatment and a mean of 26.9% positive stromal cells in posttreated specimens with a statistically significant P value (.001). Mean percentage of SATB2-positive stromal cells in the pre- and posttreatment specimens was 36.46% and 20.8%, respectively.
Conclusions: Our study validates that denosumab treatment results in marked reduction of OCLGCs with increased osteoblastic activity. Decreased expression of H3.3G34W in posttreatment may be a result of decreased antigenicity of neoplastic mononuclear cells. No significant change in SATB2 expression was noted.


Volume, issue, and pagination are not provided by the author/publisher


International Journal of Surgical Pathology