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Am J Surg Pathol. 2001 Nov;25(11):1419-23.

Increased expression of tenascin in pheochromocytomas correlates with malignancy.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Haartman Institute, University of Helsinki and HUCH Laboratory Diagnostics, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.


Tenascin is a significant extracellular matrix glycoprotein, which is upregulated in various neoplasias and pathologic processes. Pheochromocytomas are rare tumors of the sympathoadrenal system, whose malignancy is almost impossible to predict. There are no histologic or chemical markers available that would define the malignant behavior of these tumors, except the discovery of metastases. In our search for new markers, we investigated the immunohistochemical expression of tenascin in a large number of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas. Seven tumors were metastasized and were thus considered malignant. Normal adrenal medulla was tenascin negative. A striking difference was seen between malignant and benign pheochromocytomas. All malignant pheochromocytomas expressed stromal tenascin strongly or moderately, whereas most benign pheochromocytomas (28 of 37, 70%) showed no or only weak immunopositivity. The staining was strong or moderate also in 13 of 28 (46%) of the tumors that showed histologically suspicious features, here called borderline tumors. Paragangliomas showed a more heterogeneous staining pattern, and no significant difference was found between benign and malignant paragangliomas. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate the expression of tenascin in pheochromocytomas and particularly the enhanced expression in malignant pheochromocytomas. We therefore suggest that tenascin may be associated with the malignant transformation and metastasis of pheochromocytomas. It is also a potential marker predicting more aggressive behavior in pheochromocytomas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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