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Am J Clin Pathol. 1986 Jun;85(6):649-67.

Liposarcoma. An ultrastructural study of 15 cases.


Fifteen liposarcomas from 13 patients were examined by electron microscopy. These included nine primary tumors, four recurrent tumors after primary surgery or irradiation, and two metastatic lesions. Twelve of the liposarcomas were located in the thigh, and 11 were of the myxoid variety. All neoplasms were composed of cells having the ultrastructural characteristics of some stage of lipoblastic differentiation, i.e., lipid droplets, micropinocytotic vesicles, glycogen, external lamina, intermediate filaments, Golgi apparatuses, rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, and mitochondria. The nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio and nuclear pleomorphism were related inversely to the size and number of lipid droplets. Lipoblasts were frequently in close association with capillaries and pericytes, and in four cases lipid droplets were found in pericytes. Multivacuolated, mitochondria-rich lipoblasts, resembling brown fat cells, also were seen. Most tumors contained lipid-free, poorly differentiated mesenchymal cells that showed a continuum of morphologic differentiation to cells that closely resembled early lipoblasts that contained nonmembrane-bound lipid vacuoles. Fibrolipoblasts, cells containing lipid droplets and abundant rough endoplasmic reticulum, were observed only in well-differentiated liposarcomas. Some soft tissue sarcomas contain vacuolated cells that simulate lipoblasts by light microscopy but prove to be reactive or malignant fibroblasts, histiocytes, or smooth muscle cells ultrastructurally. Therefore, use of electron microscopy may be necessary to establish the line of differentiation in these neoplasms.

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