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J Clin Pathol. 2004 Apr;57(4):383-7.

Thyroid transcription factor 1 in pulmonary adenocarcinoma.

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Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.



To discover whether variations in thyroid transcription factor 1 (TTF-1) staining in different subtypes and patterns of pulmonary adenocarcinoma are related to the putative origin of the tumour. In addition, to confirm the specificity of TTF-1 for pulmonary (as opposed to other sites) adenocarcinoma, to examine the possible prognostic relevance of TTF-1 positivity in lung cancer, and to review this laboratory's experience of TTF-1 in diagnostic practice.


In total, 128 primary lung adenocarcinomas, 106 primary non-pulmonary adenocarcinomas, and 37 pulmonary non-adenocarcinoma tumours were studied. In addition, 100 cases where TTF-1 was used in routine surgical pathology practice were investigated. Immunoperoxidase staining was performed on formalin fixed, paraffin wax embedded sections using anti-TTF-1 antibody. Staining was evaluated semiquantitatively using the frequency and intensity of nuclear positivity.


None of the 106 non-pulmonary adenocarcinomas expressed TTF-1 and only three of the 37 non-adenocarcinoma lung cancers, all neuroendocrine carcinomas, were positive. Of the pulmonary adenocarcinomas, 75% were strongly positive for TTF-1. Mucinous (two of six) and poorly differentiated adenocarcinomas (four of 10) were less likely to stain. Of the peripheral adenocarcinomas, 33 of 37 were positive, whereas only seven of 14 of those of bronchial origin stained strongly. Atypical adenomatous hyperplasia strongly expressed TTF-1. No "false positives" were encountered in the 100 routine diagnostic cases.


Positive TTF-1 staining is useful in the differential diagnosis of pulmonary adenocarcinomas. TTF-1 may be a lineage marker for tumours arising from the peripheral airway or alveolar epithelium and has no prognostic relevance.

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