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Am J Surg Pathol. 2008 Dec;32(12):1780-6. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e31818649ed.

Renal cell carcinomas with papillary architecture and clear cell components: the utility of immunohistochemical and cytogenetical analyses in differential diagnosis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


Although histologic features enable an accurate diagnosis in most renal carcinomas, overlapping morphologic findings between some renal neoplasms make subclassification difficult. Some renal carcinomas show papillary architecture but are composed extensively of cells with clear cytoplasm, and it is unclear whether they should be classified as clear cell renal cell carcinomas or papillary renal cell carcinomas. We analyzed the immunohistochemical profiles and the cytogenetic patterns of 14 renal carcinomas showing papillary architecture in which there were variable amounts of cells with clear cytoplasm. The patients were 8 women and 6 men (mean age: 54 y). Immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis distinguished 2 different groups. The first consisted of 10 renal cell carcinomas with strong immunoreactivity for alpha-methyl coenzyme A racemase, of which 9 also expressed cytokeratin 7. All of these neoplasms showed gains of chromosome 7 or 17 and chromosome Y was lost in all the male patients whereas 3p deletion was detected only in one case. In the other 4 renal cell carcinomas, cytokeratin 7 was not detected and alpha-methylacyl-CoA racemase was positive in only 1. In these neoplasms, no gain of chromosome 7 or 17 and no loss of chromosome Y were observed, whereas 3p deletion was detected in 3 of them. None of the 14 neoplasms showed immunoreactivity for TFE3. The combined use of immunohistochemistry and cytogenetics enabled us to provide a definitive diagnosis for 12 of 14 renal cell carcinomas with papillary architecture and clear cell components: 9 cases were confirmed to be papillary renal cell carcinomas and 3 cases were confirmed to be clear cell renal cell carcinomas. Despite these ancillary techniques, 2 cases remained unclassified. Our study establishes the utility of these procedures in accurately classifying the great majority of renal cell carcinomas with these findings.

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