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Histopathology. 2000 Sep;37(3):232-40.

Cytokeratin 5/6 immunohistochemistry assists the differential diagnosis of atypical proliferations of the breast.

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Gerhard-Domagk-Institute of Pathology, University of Münster, Department of Pathology, City Hospital, Osnabrück, and City Hospital, Berlin-Buch, Germany.



This study was performed to determine the diagnostic value of keratin 5/6 (CK 5/6) immunophenotyping on routinely processed breast tissues.


Six hundred and ninety-nine breast lesions, including normal tissues as well as benign and malignant lesions in 321 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples from 158 different patients were investigated immunohistochemically, following wet autoclave pre-treatment for antigen retrieval. In normal breast tissues, both myoepithelial and luminal epithelial cells expressed CK 5/6 in varying amounts. While myoepithelial immunoreactivity was most pronounced in the duct system, luminal epithelial immunoreactivity was strongest in the terminal duct lobular units. In ductal hyperplasias (DH), luminal epithelial cells predominantly revealed CK 5/6 immunoreaction. In contrast, neoplastic epithelial cells in atypical ductal and lobular hyperplasias (ADH and ALH) lacked such an expression, whereas in ductal in-situ carcinomas (DCIS) and in infiltrating ductal carcinomas 3.7% and 7.7%, of the cases respectively, showed positive immunostaining for CK 5/6.


Immunophenotyping of keratin 5/6 expression can be helpful in the diagnosis of atypical hyperplasias and in-situ carcinomas of the breast. It is particularly valuable in the differential diagnosis between benign and atypical proliferative lesions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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