PE-35-related antigen expression and CD1a-positive lymphocytes in thymoma subtypes based on Müller-Hermelink classification
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PE-35 monoclonal antibody, detecting a cell-surface antigen of various types of carcinoma and normal epithelium, reacts exclusively with the medullary epithelium in the thymus; therefore, the antigen has been considered as a marker of medullary differentiation in thymomas. Using the catalyzed signal amplification method, which made it possible to apply PE-35 to routinely processed, archival tissues, we examined expression of this antigen, together with CD1a reactivity of lymphocytes, in 40 thymic epithelial tumors subclassified using the Mü1ler-Hermelink system. Medullary thymomas infiltrated with a small number of CD1a-negative lymphocytes were PE-35 positive, although many of the long spindle tumor cells were PE-35 negative. Mixed thymomas and predominantly cortical thymomas, both with prominent CD1a-positive lymphocytes, were also PE-35 positive, although some areas of the latter type were PE-35 negative. Cortical thymomas with decreased numbers of CD1a-positive lymphocytes were largely PE-35 negative. In well-differentiated thymic carcinomas with a few CD1a-positive lymphocytes, two cases were negative, but four cases were at least focally positive with PE-35. All high-grade thymic carcinomas infiltrated with some CD1a-negative lymphocytes were PE-35 positive. These results suggested that medullary thymoma generally possesses the medullary nature, although the latter tends to be lost in the long spindle tumor cells. Mixed and predominantly cortical thymomas may have mixed medullary phenotype and cortical function. Cortical thymoma and many well-differentiated thymic carcinomas may possess the cortical nature, while the large polygonal tumor cells tend to lose immature T-lymphocyte-retaining function.
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