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Virchows Arch. 2011 Mar;458(3):301-12. doi: 10.1007/s00428-010-1017-2. Epub 2010 Dec 7.

Different immunohistochemical and ultrastructural phenotypes of squamous differentiation in bladder cancer.

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Institute of Pathology, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074, Aachen, Germany.


Besides worse prognosis of bladder cancer with squamous differentiation (pure squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) or mixed urothelial carcinoma (UC/SCC)), high-grade non-keratinising squamous differentiation is difficult to identify in haematoxylin-eosin stainings. This study aims to validate routine immunohistochemical markers for squamous differentiation in a larger cohort of patients. Tissue microarrays of 89 pure SCCs and mixed UC/SCCs, 66 urothelial carcinomas (UC), precursor lesions and normal urothelium were stained for cytokeratin (CK) 5/6, CK 5/14, CK 7, CK 20 and uroplakin III. Electron microscopy was performed to confirm the differentiation. Pure SCCs displayed staining throughout the epithelium for CK 5/6 (76.6% (36/47)) and CK 5/14 (95.8% (46/48)), focal staining for CK 7 (28.9% (13/45)) and no staining for CK 20 and uroplakin III (both 0% (0/48)). UCs exhibited a basal or diffuse staining for CK 5/6 (30.2% (16/53)) and CK 5/14 (57.1% (32/56)), focal positivity for CK 7 (83.6% (46/55)), CK 20 (50.9% (29/57)) and uroplakin III (21.8% (12/55)). Each marker discriminated SCC and UC significantly (pā€‰<ā€‰0.01). A third subgroup rarely showed full epithelial staining for CK 5/6 (14.3% (1/7)) and CK 5/14 (28.6% (2/7)), focal staining for CK 7 (85.7% (6/7)) and no staining for CK 20 and uroplakin III (both 0% (0/7)). Electron microscopy could prove both, SCC and UC characteristics, revealing a transient type. A staining pattern with CK 5/6- and CK 5/14-positivity plus CK 20- and uroplakin III-negativity identified squamous differentiation in bladder tumours and revealed a third type of squamous transdifferentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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