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Exp Mol Pathol. 2001 Feb;70(1):65-9.

Cardiac rhabdomyomas exhibit a fetal pattern of atrial natriuretic peptide immunoreactivity.

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Heart Institute (InCor), University of São Paulo Medical School, Brazil.


Rhabdomyomas are the most common heart tumors seen in infancy. However, whether they represent hamartomas or true neoplasms derived from cardiomyocytes is still controversial. The fetal pattern of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) expression (predominant in the atrial and ventricular subendocardium) becomes altered during the early postnatal period to that typical of the adult (all atrial cardiomyocytes and some cells in the ventricular impulse-conducting system). To better comprehend the nature and origin of cardiac rhabdomyomas, we investigated the immunohistochemical expression of ANP in seven surgically excised ventricular specimens and two necropsy cases of multiple, atrial, and ventricular rhabdomyomas in children aged 1 to 34 days. Immunogold labeling for ANP at the ultrastructural level was also performed on three ventricular tumors. Although all atrial tumors were immunoreactive for ANP, these usually showed a variable number of faintly positive cardiomyocytes, contrasting with the diffuse and intense immunoreactivity of the surrounding atrial myocardium. ANP was detected in the ventricular tumors of five (56%) of the nine cases. The positive ventricular tumor cells predominated in the subendocardium and areas with prominent fibrous tissue, usually around blood vessels. Immunoelectron microscopy of the ventricular tumors demonstrated rare, positive cytoplasmic granules surrounded by membranes, usually located near the nuclei. We conclude that cardiac rhabdomyomas exhibit a fetal pattern of ANP immunoreactivity, which suggests delayed maturation of the tumoral cardiomyocytes, reinforcing the notion that cardiac rhabdomyomas are fetal hamartomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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