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Wilms Tumor Gene Product: Sensitive and Contextually Specific Marker of Serous Carcinomas of Ovarian Surface Epithelial Origin

Hwang, Harry MD*; Quenneville, Louise MD; Yaziji, Hadi MD*; Gown, Allen M. MD*†

Applied Immunohistochemistry & Molecular Morphology: June 2004 - Volume 12 - Issue 2 - p 122-126
Research Articles

Carcinomas of ovarian surface epithelial origin can arise from, and often present at, extraovarian sites. There are few available markers for the positive identification of carcinomas of ovarian surface epithelial origin, which might aid in distinguishing them from metastatic carcinomas, such as of breast, colon, or lung origin. Recently, the Wilms tumor gene product (WT-1) has been shown to be expressed in ovarian surface and mesothelial epithelium. We tested the hypothesis that WT-1 would be a sensitive and specific marker of ovarian surface epithelium carcinomas. An archived series of 116 ovarian carcinomas (57 serous [43 ovarian, 14 extraovarian], 31 mucinous, 15 clear cell, 13 endometrioid), 118 breast carcinomas, 46 colonic carcinomas, and 45 nonsmall cell lung cancers were selected. A polyclonal antibody to the WT-1 gene product was applied to deparaffinized, formalin-fixed tissue sections after epitope retrieval. Fifty-two of 57 (93%) serous carcinomas of ovarian surface epithelial origin were WT-1–positive, in a nuclear pattern, with virtually all the tumor cell population positive in the majority of cases. None of the mucinous, clear cell, or endometrioid ovarian cancers were positive, and only 8 of 118 breast, 0 of 46 colonic, and 0 of 45 lung nonsmall cell carcinomas were WT-1–positive. These findings demonstrate that WT-1 is a highly sensitive and specific marker of serous carcinomas of ovarian surface epithelial origin (both ovarian and extra-ovarian). These results also contradict recent reports demonstrating WT-1 expression in both breast and lung carcinomas.

From *PhenoPath Laboratories, Seattle, Washington, and †Department of Pathology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Received for publication July 29, 2003; accepted October 3, 2003.

Reprints: Allen M. Gown, MD, PhenoPath Laboratories, 551 N. 34th Street, Seattle, WA 98103 (e-mail:

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.