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Anal Quant Cytol Histol. 2006 Jun;28(3):157-70.

Intratubular germ cell neoplasia of unclassified type.

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  • 1Department of Human Pathology and Oncology, University of Siena, Pathological Anatomy Section, Siena, Italy.


Intratubular germ cell neoplasia of unclassified type (IGCNU) is the precursor lesion of adult testicular germ cell invasive tumors. Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are recognized as the cells of origin of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) because of the genetic and phenotypic characteristics analyzed. The most important risk factors responsible for abnormal development of PGCs are environmental, including the testicular dysgenetic syndromes that generate a better microenvironmentfor survival of IGCNU cells, an abnormal relationship with Sertoli cells, and an abnormal hormonal exposure at the time of testicular differentiation in utero. Furthermore, a familial TGCT susceptibility gene (TGCT1), localized at Xq27, is associated with a higher risk for bilateral tumors and possibly cryptorchidism. The normal tetraploid pattern and the consequent genomic instability of germinal cell DNA are considered sufficient per se for neoplastic transformation. The altered expression of oncogenes and suppressor genes due to nonrandom chromosomal numerical aberrations are involved in the development of IGCNU. Some of these genes are considered responsible for bilaterality, while other genes characterize the similarity between IGCNU cells and PGCs or are involved in the neoplastic transformation, histotype differentiation, and invasivity. In spite of the monomorphic seminomatous appearance of cells in IGCNU, it is becoming increasingly evident that they hide an intrinsic heterogeneity capable of committing neoplastic cells to an embryonal and pluripotent development associated or not with a seminomatous phenotype.

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