Original article Clinical endoscopy| Volume 94, ISSUE 4, P733-741.e4, October 2021

Clinical utility of methionyl-tRNA synthetase 1 immunostaining in cytologic brushings of indeterminate biliary strictures: a multicenter prospective study

      Background and Aims

      Endobiliary brushings are routinely used in the diagnosis, treatment, and prognostication of biliary strictures. However, standard Papanicolaou (Pap) staining has a low sensitivity in this setting, and the accuracy of brush cytology has not been established for indeterminate strictures. We therefore evaluated the diagnostic merit of methionyl-transfer RNA synthetase 1 (MARS1) immunofluorescence (IF) staining in such cytologic specimens.


      During ERCP, endobiliary brushings were obtained from patients with extrahepatic biliary strictures prospectively enrolled at 6 tertiary hospitals. Using liquid-based cytologic preparations of these samples, we performed Pap and MARS1 IF staining.


      In total, 240 patients were eligible; of these, we compared the Pap and MARS1 IF staining results of 218 (malignant, 157; benign, 61). By conventional Pap staining, the diagnoses were distributed as follows: malignant, 55; suspicious of malignancy, 60; atypical, 45; negative for malignancy, 58. MARS1 IF staining was strongly positive in malignant biliary stricture but not so in specimens negative for malignancy. The diagnostic parameters (sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy) of the MARS1 IF (93.6%, 96.7%, 98.7%, 85.5%, and 94.5%, respectively) and conventional Pap (73.2%, 100%, 100%, 59.2%, and 80.7%, respectively) staining methods differed significantly (P < .0001).


      The high sensitivity and accuracy of MARS1 IF staining enabled the detection of malignancy in patients with biliary strictures. Further prospective studies are needed to validate our findings. (Clinical trial registration number: NCT03708445.)

      Graphical abstract


      CCM (conventional cytologic staining method), IF (immunofluorescence), MARS1 (methionyl-transfer RNA synthetase 1), NPV (negative predictive value), Pap (Papanicolaou), PPV (positive predictive value), tRNA (transfer RNA)
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