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Am J Surg Pathol. 2003 Aug;27(8):1152-6.

Inhibin alpha distinguishes hemangioblastoma from clear cell renal cell carcinoma.

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Department of Pathology, Unviersity of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Veterans Affairs north Texas health Care System, Dallas, TX 75390-9073, USA.


Inhibin alpha subunit (inhibin A) expression in hemangioblastomas has not been previously reported in the literature. We analyzed the expression of inhibin A in 25 hemangioblastomas from 22 patients. Eleven cases were from 8 patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease, and these tumors were multicentric and/or recurrent. The remaining 14 cases from 14 patients were sporadic. The male-to-female ratio was 8:3, and the age at presentation ranged from 19 to 78 years (mean 35 years; median 45 years). Eighteen tumors were located in the cerebellum/posterior fossa, 1 in the medulla, 1 in the occipital lobe, and 5 in the spinal cord. Four metastatic renal cell carcinomas in brain, 10 renal cell carcinomas from 8 patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease, and 5 sporadic clear cell renal cell carcinomas were also included. Two patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease had both renal cell carcinoma and hemangioblastoma. The stromal cells of all 25 cases of hemangioblastoma expressed inhibin A. Strong, moderate, and weak cytoplasmic immunoreactivity was noted in 17, 5, and 3 cases, respectively. In contrast, none of the 19 renal cell carcinomas, primary as well as metastatic, expressed inhibin A. There was no difference in the inhibin A staining pattern between the sporadic hemangioblastoma and those associated with VHL. These findings demonstrate inhibin A to be a useful marker in distinguishing hemangioblastoma from metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma. While the diagnostic importance is evident, the pathophysiology of inhibin A expression by the stromal cells of hemangioblastoma remains unknown and further investigation is required.

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