Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Adrenocortical Carcinoma: A Comprehensive Immunohistochemical Study of 40 Cases

Weissferdt, Annikka MD, FRCPath*; Phan, Alexandria MD; Suster, Saul MD; Moran, Cesar A. MD*

Applied Immunohistochemistry & Molecular Morphology: January 2014 - Volume 22 - Issue 1 - p 24–30
doi: 10.1097/PAI.0b013e31828a96cf
Research Articles

Adrenocortical carcinomas (ACC) are uncommon tumors of the adrenal cortex that are known to follow an aggressive clinical course. The distinction of these tumors from other neoplasms may sometimes prove difficult due to overlapping clinical, morphologic, and even immunophenotypical features. To this end, we performed a comprehensive immunohistochemical analysis using traditional and novel markers in 40 cases of ACC. An immunohistochemical panel consisting of 10 traditional and novel antibodies was applied to whole tissue sections of ACC including high-molecular weight cytokeratin (HMWCK), low-molecular weight cytokeratin (CAM5.2), inhibin-α, melan A, chromogranin A, synaptophysin, calretinin, steroid receptor coactivator-1 (SRC-1), Pax8, and Ki67. The percentage of positive tumor cells as well as the intensity of staining were evaluated and scored; for Ki67 the percentage of positive tumor cells was recorded. Positive staining was observed for SRC-1 (39/40; 97.5%), inhibin-α (37/40; 92.5%), calretinin (32/40; 80%), synaptophysin (29/40; 72.5%), melan A (26/40; 65%), and CAM5.2 (9/40; 22.5%). Rare cases showed positivity for chromogranin A (2/40; 5%) and Pax8 (1/40; 2.5%). None of the cases showed any reactivity with HMWCK. The Ki67 index ranged from <5% to 20%. We conclude that there is no single specific marker to reliably distinguish ACC from other primary or metastatic neoplasms. However, a combination of immunohistochemical stains in a panel consisting of SRC-1, inhibin-α, calretinin, and HMWCK may be of aid in the differential diagnosis of these tumors. In addition, Pax8 is only rarely positive in ACC, which is a useful tool in their separation from renal neoplasms.

Departments of *Pathology

GI Medical Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Department of Pathology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Annikka Weissferdt, MD, FRCPath, Department of Pathology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030 (e-mail:

Received January 7, 2013

Accepted January 30, 2013

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.