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Am J Surg Pathol. 2006 Dec;30(12):1595-603.

Nuclear beta-catenin accumulation as reliable marker for the differentiation between cystic craniopharyngiomas and rathke cleft cysts: a clinico-pathologic approach.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.


Clinical and histopathologic differentiation of cystic lesions from the sellar region, that is, craniopharyngiomas (CPs) and Rathke cleft cysts (RCCs), is challenging and has paramount importance with respect to variable clinical manifestation and adapted surgical treatment strategies in both entities. Here, we retrospectively evaluated clinico-pathologic findings in 81 patients presenting with a cystic tumor located in the sellar region. All patients underwent transsphenoidal or transcranial resections. Microscopic inspection of surgical specimens identified CP in 51 patients, and RCC in 30 patients. Amongst the panel of immunohistochemical marker proteins used for histopathologic analysis, nuclear accumulation of beta-catenin was detectable only in CP. On the basis of the histopathologic and immunohistochemical analysis, clinical presentation (sex, age, ophthalmologic, and endocrinologic deficits), imaging (tumor location, size, and calcification), as well as a description of cyst contents obtained during operation were retrospectively evaluated. In purely cystic CPs, an isointense signal was more frequent in T1-weighted magnetic resonance images and calcification of the tumor capsule in computed tomography scans. In addition, the size of RCC was smaller and this tumor entity was more often located within the sella. Aberrant (nuclear) immunohistochemical staining for beta-catenin appeared, however, as most reliable factor for the differentiation between purely cystic CPs and RCCs, whereas tumor location, tumor size, and calcification of the tumor capsule were less consistent parameters. The data are compatible with distinct pathogenic pathways associated with these related histopathologic entities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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