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Immunocytochemical demonstration of intermediate filament cytoskeleton proteins in human endocrine tissues and (neuro-) endocrine tumours.


The presence and distribution of intermediate filament proteins, such as cytokeratins, vimentin, neurofilament proteins and glial fibrillary acidic protein were assessed immunohistochemically in pituitary adenomas, medullary thyroid carcinomas, endocrine pancreatic tumours, gastric, intestinal and bronchial carcinoids, parathyroid adenomas, pheochromocytomas, paragangliomas and related non-neoplastic tissues. In some cases, immunohistochemical results were correlated with cytoskeletal proteins as analysed by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Cytokeratin antibodies with broad range of immunoreactivity (i.e. to murine liver cytokeratin component D) reacted with epithelial cells in all non-neoplastic endocrine tissues and related neuroendocrine tumours studied, except for adrenal medulla, pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma, independently of hormone production and biological behaviour. In contrast, antibodies to epidermis-derived cytokeratins failed to stain endocrine tissues and tumours. Paranuclear cytokeratin accumulations were seen in bronchial, gastric, and intestinal carcinoids and seem to be a common feature of neuroendocrine tumours. One- and two-dimensional SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of non-neoplastic endocrine tissues and related tumours revealed two major keratin polypeptides corresponding to cytokeratins No. 8 and 18 of the cytokeratin catalog of human cells (Moll et al. 1982). According to this cytokeratin polypeptide composition, endocrine tissues and related tumours conform to the "simple type" of epithelia. Vimentin-related immunoreactivity was restricted to stromal cells and to folliculo-stellate cells in normal pituitary gland, Schwann cells in carcinoids and satellite cells in normal adrenal medulla and in pheochromocytomas. Neurofilament protein- (70 kD)-antibodies only stained nerve fibers in normal tissues and at the periphery of carcinoid tumour cell complexes, and to a variable degree, cells in nontumorous adrenal medulla, pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas. Furthermore, neurofilament reactivity was observed along with cytokeratin expression in two bronchial carcinoids.

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