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Mod Pathol. 2011 May;24(5):646-52. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2010.231. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Trophoblastic vasculogenic mimicry in gestational choriocarcinoma.

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  • 1Departments of Pathology, Oncology and Gynecology/Obstetrics, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, 1550 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA.


Angiogenesis is a characteristic feature of solid tumors, which depend on the newly formed vasculature to prevent hypoxia and to sustain uncontrolled tumor cell proliferation. In this study, we investigated the blood supply system in 10 gestational choriocarcinomas on the basis of histopathological and immunohistochemical features. In all examined cases, morphological analysis demonstrated that blood channels within the center of choriocarcinomas were surrounded by neoplastic trophoblastic cells rather than by endothelial cells. Similarly, there was a lack of CD31 and CD34-positive endothelial cells within choriocarcinomas. In the periphery of choriocarcinomas, tumor cells invaded uterine stroma-derived blood vessels where trophoblastic cells replaced endothelial cells, forming anastomoses between endothelium-lined blood vessels and trophoblast-lined pseudovascular channels. Masson's trichrome staining revealed minimal amounts of connective tissue within choriocarcinomas. In contrast, CD31 and CD34-positive blood vessels were present in other types of gestational trophoblastic neoplasms including 8 placental site trophoblastic tumors and 12 epithelioid trophoblastic tumors. These findings provide cogent evidence that choriocarcinoma represents one of a few human tumor types that utilizes vasculogenic mimicry by tumor cell in supporting tumor development.

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