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Acta Neuropathol. 1986;72(1):43-54.

Non-glial specificities of immunocytochemistry for the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Triple expression of GFAP, vimentin and cytokeratins in papillary meningioma and metastasizing renal carcinoma.


In an extensive immunocytochemistry study for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) of human neuropathological biopsy or autopsy tissue specimens examined for diagnostic or research purposes, rare non-glial specificities of the GFAP immunostain were observed: Schwann cells of some small nerves in salivary gland, renal capsule, and in epidural fat adjacent to a metastatic carcinoma, Schwann and satellite cells in a spinal ganglion invaded by tumor, chondrocytes of epiglottic cartilage, few cells of a malignant pleomorphic adenoma of salivary gland, most cells of a recurrent papillary meningioma with areas similar to the hemangiopericytic variant, and many cells of a renal carcinoma metastatic to brain; the primary renal tumor had been operated 4 years earlier and focally contained some GFAP-positive cells. To ascertain the specificity of such unexpected immunoreactivities for GFAP and to exclude possible crossreactivities with other intermediate filament (IF) proteins, a panel of different antibodies was used for immunocytochemistry with the peroxidase-antiperoxidase (polyclonal antisera) or labeled biotin-avidin (monoclonal antibodies) techniques: two monoclonal and four polyclonal anti-GFAP, three monoclonal and one polyclonal anti-cytokeratins (CK), and two monoclonal anti-vimentin (VIM) antibodies. Triple expression of GFAP, VIM and CK was found in the papillary meningioma (in patterns suggesting frequent co-localization), in the metastatic carcinoma (in patterns suggesting little co-localization), and in the pleomorphic adenoma (only few GFAP-positive cells). Co-expression of GFAP and VIM was seen in epiglottic chondrocytes and reactive astroglia; another metastatic carcinoma was labeled only for CKs. In the light of previous reports on non-glial specificities of the GFAP immunostain, and of the consistency of our immunostaining results obtained by all monospecific anti-GFAP antibodies as well as the lack of immunocytochemically evident crossreactivity with other IF proteins, authentic GFAP production by some rare non-glial tissues and tumors is suggested.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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