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Histol Histopathol. 2003 Jul;18(3):935-42.

Review of renal oncocytoma with focus on clinical and pathobiological aspects.

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  • 1First Department of Pathology, Kochi Medical School, Kohasu, Oko-cho, Nankoku City, Kochi, Japan.


Renal oncocytomas account for about 3-7% of all renal tumors. Macroscopically, the cut surface of the tumor is generally mahogany brown or dark red in color. A central scar is occasionally observed. Histologically, tumor cells with finely granular cytoplasm proliferate in an edematous, myxomatous or hyalinized stroma with a nested, tubulocystic, solid or trabecular pattern. Ultrastructurally, tumor cells contain many mitochondria with lamellar cristae. Mitochondrial DNA alterations are consistently observed in renal oncocytomas. In chromosomal analysis, renal oncocytomas comprise a heterogenous group. Combined loss of chromosomes Y and 1, rearrangements affecting band 11q12-13, involvement of 12q12-13, loss of 14q, and the lack of combination of LOH at specific chromosomal sites have been reported. In differential diagnosis, the histological separation from chromophobe RCCs is of great importance. In such a setting, ultrastructural or chromosomal analysis is very useful. However, there are several findings suggesting a close relationship between chromophobe RCC and oncocytoma. First, both tumors share a phenotype of intercalated cells of the collecting duct system and mitochondrial DNA alterations. Second, some cases of coexistent oncocytoma and chromophobe RCC, designated as "renal oncocytosis", have recently been reported. Third, oncocytic variants of chromophobe RCCs that have similar ultrastructural features to those of oncocytomas have been reported. Fourth, the existence of chromophobe adenoma, which is the benign counterpart of chromophobe RCC and shows loss of chromosomes Y and 1, has recently been suggested. Finally, although almost all oncocytomas behave in a benign fashion, some cases of oncocytoma that caused metastasis or resulted in death have also been reported. Therefore, further studies are needed to resolve these problems and also to elucidate the genetic mechanisms responsible for the occurrence of oncocytomas.

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