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Am J Surg Pathol. 2005 Jan;29(1):83-8.

Expression of epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCam) in renal epithelial tumors.

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  • 1Institute of Pathology, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.


EpCam is an epithelial adhesion molecule expressed in a broad range of carcinomas. Clinical trials with specific humanized anti-EpCam antibodies have shown promising results and have been inaugurated in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) therapy. To study the EpCam expression profile, primary renal cell neoplasms as well as corresponding metastases were evaluated by immunohistochemistry in tissue microarrays. EpCam expression in oncocytomas and chromophobe RCCs was determined on conventional large sections. Moderate or strong EpCam expression was found in eighteen percent of clear cell (n=147), 75% of chromophobe (n=12), and 55% of papillary RCCs (n=20), but not in oncocytomas (n=3). On large sections, 90% of chromophobe RCCs (n=20) showed a strong and homogeneous positivity, whereas oncocytomas (n=15) revealed EpCam positivity in single tumor cells or small clusters. Fourteen percent of RCC metastases (n=97) showed EpCam expression. Patients with EpCam expressing clear cell RCC showed a trend toward a better prognosis in a Cox regression analysis including stage, grade, and necrosis. The data suggest EpCam as a potential therapeutic target in a subset of patients with RCC. In addition, expression patterns of EpCam could become a helpful tool in the discrimination of chromophobe RCC and oncocytoma.

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