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Am J Pathol. 1990 Aug;137(2):435-47.

Chordomas with malignant spindle cell components. A DNA flow cytometric and immunohistochemical study with histogenetic implications.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.


The authors studied four chordomas with malignant spindle cell components (SCs) and 12 conventional chordomas (CCs) by DNA flow cytometry using paraffin-embedded tissue. In addition, immunohistochemical stains for a variety of epithelial and mesenchymal markers were performed. The four SCs contained areas histologically identical to conventional chordomas, as well as a high-grade malignant spindle cell component. All four (100%) SCs had an aneuploid-multiploid DNA content. Of interest, the conventional chordoma areas in these tumors had DNA contents different from those containing the high-grade malignant spindle cells. In contrast, only three (27%) of the 11 conventional chordomas with analyzable histograms had an aneuploid-multiploid DNA content. Immunohistochemical studies performed on the four SCs showed the high-grade malignant spindle cells to stain strongly for vimentin and weakly for cytokeratin, S-100 protein, and epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), whereas the areas of conventional chordoma in these same neoplasms stained moderately for vimentin and S-100 protein, and strongly for cytokeratin and EMA. In two cases, the staining for EMA and cytokeratin highlighted a gradual transition between the areas of conventional chordoma and the spindle cell areas. The immunohistochemical staining pattern of the 12 conventional chordomas was similar to that seen in the conventional chordoma components of the four chordomas with malignant spindle cell components. These results suggest that: 1) aneuploidy is more common in SCs than in CCs, and 2) some SCs are multipotential neoplasms in which the neoplastic cells are capable of differentiation along both epithelial and mesenchymal pathways.

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