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Virchows Arch. 2004 Dec;445(6):610-5. Epub 2004 Sep 18.

p16INK4A positivity in benign, premalignant and malignant cervical glandular lesions: a potential diagnostic problem.

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Department of Pathology, Coombe Women's Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland.


A wide array of immunohistochemical markers have been evaluated with respect to their specificity in staining dysplastic cervical cells in cervical biopsies and cervical cytological smears. However, there is still a significant demand for better biomarkers to identify neoplastic cervical glandular and squamous epithelial cells precisely. The CDKN2A gene, located on chromosome 9p21, encodes the tumour suppressor protein, p16INK4A, which decelerates the cell cycle by inactivating CDK4 and CDK6. The aim of this study was to compare and contrast the expression pattern of p16INK4A in benign and neoplastic glandular lesions and tubo-endometrioid metaplasia. All cases in each category displayed some p16INK4A expression. Adenocarcinoma and in situ cases showed a combination of intense nuclear and cytoplasmic staining. It was observed that all cases of tubo-endometrioid metaplasia showed occasional nuclear positivity and definite cytoplasmic staining. These findings may have important implications for the potential utility of p16INK4A as a biomarker for glandular dysplastic lesions. While p16INK4A has been demonstrated to be an excellent marker of cervical dysplasia in squamous neoplastic lesions of the cervix, it has potential pitfalls in cervical glandular lesions that may limit the utility of this biomarker in resolving the nature of suspicious glandular lesions, particularly in cytopathology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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