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Virchows Arch. 1994;424(2):135-41.

Preferential localization of c-kit product in tissue mast cells, basal cells of skin, epithelial cells of breast, small cell lung carcinoma and seminoma/dysgerminoma in human: immunohistochemical study on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Fukushima Medical College, Japan.


Eighteen hundred and eighty-four cases of human solid tumours and 833 samples of normal human tissues, formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded, were examined immunohistochemically for expression of c-kit oncogene product using polyclonal antibody against synthesized c-kit peptide. Seminoma/dysgerminoma and small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) show preferential c-kit expression at 92% and 36% frequency, respectively, whereas only sporadic cases of cervical carcinoma and non-SCLC lung carcinoma show c-kit positivity. A normal tissue counterpart positive for c-kit product is detected in the testis (spermatocyte) and ovary (oocyte) but not in the lung or the cervix. In contrast, normal epithelial cells of the breast, skin basal cells and tissue mast cells harbour c-kit product, but transformed cells of the former two are largely deficient in the c-kit protein. One hundred and thirty-nine neuroendocrine tumours and 39 non-pulmonary small cell carcinomas were all negative, except for two cases of neuroblastoma. This indicates a distinct character for SCLC in c-kit expression. The c-kit product may be a useful marker in diagnostic pathology of seminoma/dysgerminoma and SCLC among human solid tumours, and in distinction of SCLC from non-pulmonary small cell carcinoma.

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