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Am J Pathol. 1988 Jan;130(1):205-15.

Antibody specific to muscle actins in the diagnosis and classification of soft tissue tumors.

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Department of Pathology, University of Helsinki, Finland.


A series of soft tissue tumors, melanomas, carcinomas, and lymphomas were studied immunohistochemically for the presence of muscle actins (MA) with the monoclonal antibody HHF-35, and for the presence of desmin for comparison. In nonneoplastic tissues, MA immunoreactivity was present in skeletal and smooth muscle cells, in the pericytes of small vessels, and in the myoepithelial cells. Desmin immunoreactivity had a similar distribution, except that the pericytes of small vessels and myoepithelial cells were negative. All 17 rhabdomyosarcomas were positive for both MA and desmin. Of leiomyosarcomas, 31/32 were positive for MA, and 29/32 for desmin. In pleomorphic undifferentiated sarcomas (malignant fibrous histiocytomas) MA and desmin-positive cells were present in 9/35 and 5/35 cases, respectively. Three of five pleomorphic liposarcomas showed MA-positive tumor cells, which were also desmin-positive in one case. Desmoid tumors often showed a moderate number of both desmin- and MA-positive cells. Hemangiopericytoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, and endometrial stromal sarcoma showed MA-positive staining only in the pericytes and not in the neoplastic cells. In various types of carcinomas, melanomas, and lymphomas, MA- or desmin-positive neoplastic cells were not identified. MA, but not desmin, was present in the desmoplastic stroma in many carcinomas. Both MA and desmin are good markers for muscle differentiation and especially serve to identify rhabdomyosarcomas and leiomyosarcomas. These markers are also present in some sarcomas currently regarded as nonmuscle tumors. This may suggest that some of these tumors have differentiation properties related to true myosarcomas. The absence of muscle actin, a pericytic marker, in hemangiopericytoma does not confirm the concept of pericytic nature of this tumor.

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