Intermediate filament protein profiles of human testicular non-seminomatous germ cell tumors: correlation of cytokeratin synthesis to cell differentiation

Beatriz Lifschitz-Mercer, Mina Fogel, Roland Moll, Nurith Jacob, Ilana Kushnir, Alexander Livoff, Rüdiger Waldherr, Werner W. Franke, Bernard Czernobilsky

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27 Scopus citations


The patterns of cytoskeletal differentiation were studied in 20 testicular non-seminomatous germ cell tumors by immunohistochemistry, using diverse monoclonal antibodies specific for different intermediate filament (IF) proteins and for desmoplakin. Immuno-fluorescence and immunoperoxidase methods on both formalin-fixed and frozen tissues were applied, in some cases together with a gel electrophoretic analysis of IF proteins. The tumors examined included embryonal carcinoma (EC), endodermal sinus tumor (EST), choriocar-cinoma and teratoma. Nine of the tumors were composed of only one histological type, the others showed mixed components. Cytokeratins 8 and 18 were identified in all these neoplasms, but their immunostaining was weak in ECs. Cytokeratin 19 was absent or very scarce in ECs, but strongly expressed in ESTs, choriocarcinomas and teratomas, thus allowing the identification of small EST and choriocarcinoma elements in ECs even when they were morphologically not obvious. Occasionally, some cells in ECs and ESTs also stained for cytokeratins 4 and/or 17, indicating potential for epithelial stratification. The majority of the germ cell tumors showed varied amounts of vimentin, often in co-existence with cytokeratins. Neurofilaments were demonstrated in scattered tumor cells in a single case of EST. In the teratomas studied, each type of tissue component present showed the expected IF protein. However, in many germ cell tumors some stromal cells and blood vessels contained, in addition to vimentin and desmin, also cytokeratins 8 and 18. This heterogeneity of the cytoskeletal profile of germ cell tumors is indicative of the varied differentiation potential inherent in these neoplasms. In general, the level and extent of expression of the simple epithelium type cytokeratins, especially cytokeratin 19, appears to correlate with the level of differentiation of the specific tumor or tumor element.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-198
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1991
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgement. This study was supported by a joint grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Israel and the German Cancer Research Center.


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