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Am J Pathol. Aug 1983; 112(2): 160–169.
PMCID: PMC1916268

Differential diagnosis of chordoma, chondroid, and ependymal tumors as aided by anti-intermediate filament antibodies.


Six chordomas, nine chondrosarcomas, and three myxopapillary ependymomas of the filum terminale were evaluated immunohistochemically for the expression of intermediate filament proteins by the use of monospecific antibodies against intermediate filament proteins of keratin, vimentin, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) type. All chordomas were positive for keratin but negative for GFAP, whereas chondrosarcomas and ependymomas were negative for keratin. Chondrosarcomas showed strong vimentin positivity, whereas ependymomas were positive for GFAP. Chordomas showed desmosomelike junctions by electron microscopy, whereas chondrosarcomas of different types showed no junctions or only primitive ones. By electron microscopy chordomas often showed prominent intermediate filaments also associated with desmosomes, and poorly differentiated chondrosarcomas also showed prominent intermediate filaments. Keratin positivity of chordomas suggests their epithelial nature, while vimentin positivity of chondrosarcomas is in line with their mesenchymal derivation. The results also show that antibodies against different intermediate filament proteins can be applied as diagnostic aids in making the distinction between chordomas, chondroid tumors, and ependymal tumors.

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Selected References

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