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Hum Pathol. 2001 May;32(5):479-86.

Histologic and immunophenotypic classification of cervical carcinomas by expression of the p53 homologue p63: a study of 250 cases.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, MacKay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.


Recent studies of the p53 homologue p63 indicate that this gene is preferentially expressed in basal and immature cervical squamous epithelium. This study correlated p63 expression with morphologic phenotype and human papillomavirus (HPV) type in a wide range of cervical neoplasms. Two hundred fifty cases of cervical carcinoma, including squamous cell carcinoma (SCCA; n = 178), adenocarcinoma (ADCA; n = 28), adenosquamous carcinoma (ASCA; n = 8), neuroendocrine carcinoma (NECA; n = 15), and other variant or mixed types (n = 21) were studied. Ninety-seven percent of SCCA, 0% of ADCA, and 0% of SCUC showed strong (>75% v <30%) positivity for p63 (P<.001). p63 sharply distinguished SCCA (p63+) from ADCA (p63-), Large-cell, poorly differentiated carcinomas were distinguished as putative glandular (glassy cell) or squamous (lymphoepithelial-like or spindle cell) types based on p63 staining. Eight (73%) of 11 neuroendocrine tumors tested were chromogranin positive; all showed no or low (<30%) levels of p63 immunostaining. Absence of p63 was also associated with a subset of nonneuroendocrine undifferentiated carcinomas. Transitions from squamous to columnar or undifferentiated morphology coincided with loss of p63 expression. A strong association between HPV 16 and p63 positivity was identified because of the colocalization of both within tumors of squamous phenotype. p63 is a powerful marker for squamous differentiation and, when diffusely expressed, excludes a glandular or neuroendocrine differentiation. p63 may be useful for differentiating pure squamous or glandular from adenosquamous carcinomas, tracking shifts in differentiation within tumors, supporting (by its absence) the diagnosis of neuroendocrine carcinomas, and clarifying the spectrum of poorly differentiated carcinomas lacking either squamous or neuroendocrine differentiation.

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