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Hum Pathol. 2004 Jun;35(6):697-710.

The diagnostic utility of immunohistochemistry in distinguishing between mesothelioma and renal cell carcinoma: a comparative study.

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The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Both mesotheliomas and renal cell carcinomas can present a wide variety of morphological patterns. Because of this, renal cell carcinomas that metastasize to the pleura and lung may be confused with mesotheliomas. The aim of the present study was to compare the value of the various immunohistochemical markers currently available for the diagnosis of mesothelioma and renal cell carcinoma. A total of 48 mesotheliomas (40 epithelioid, 8 sarcomatoid), and 48 renal cell carcinomas (24 conventional, 12 chromophobe, 8 papillary, 4 sarcomatoid) were investigated for the expression of the following markers: calretinin, mesothelin, cytokeratin 5/6, WT1, thrombomodulin (TM), N-cadherin, CD15 (leu-M1), MOC-31, Ber-EP4, BG-8 (Lewis(y)), CD10, renal cell carcinoma marker (RCC Ma), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), and B72.3. All (100%) of the epithelioid mesotheliomas reacted for calretinin, mesothelin, and cytokeratin 5/6; 93% for WT1; 78% for TM; 75% for N-cadherin, 48% for CD10, 15% for Ber-EP4, 8% for MOC-31, 8% for RCC Ma, 5% for BG-8, and none for CEA, B72.3, or CD15. Of the sarcomatoid mesotheliomas, 88% expressed calretinin, 75% N-cadherin, 38% CD10, and 13% each expressed cytokeratin 5/6, WT1, and TM. All of the remaining markers were negative. Among the RCCs, 81% expressed CD10, 75% N-cadherin, 63% CD15, 50% RCC Ma, 50% MOC-31, 42% Ber-EP4, 8% BG-8, and 2% TM. The remaining markers were negative. The results indicate that calretinin, mesothelin, and cytokeratin 5/6 are the best positive mesothelioma markers for differentiating epithelioid mesotheliomas from renal cell carcinomas. The best discriminators among the antibodies considered negative markers for mesothelioma are CD15, MOC-31, and RCC Ma. An accurate differential diagnosis can be reached with the use of any 2 of the 3 recommended positive markers, which should be selected based on availability and on which ones yield the best staining results in a given laboratory. One of the recommended negative markers may be added to the panel if deemed necessary. If confirmation of renal origin is needed, RCC Ma could be useful. Calretinin is the only marker that appears to have any utility in distinguishing between sarcomatoid mesotheliomas and sarcomatoid renal cell carcinomas.

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