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Immunohistochemistry in the Diagnosis of Mucinous Neoplasms Involving the Ovary: The Added Value of SATB2 and Biomarker Discovery Through Protein Expression Database Mining

Strickland, Sarah M.D., C.C.F.P.; Wasserman, Jason K. M.D., Ph.D.; Giassi, Ana Ph.D.; Djordjevic, Bojana M.D., F.R.C.P.C., F.C.A.P.; Parra-Herran, Carlos M.D., F.C.A.P.

International Journal of Gynecological Pathology: May 2016 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 191–208
doi: 10.1097/PGP.0000000000000238

Immunohistochemistry is frequently used to identify ovarian mucinous neoplasms as primary or metastatic; however, there is significant overlap in expression patterns. We compared traditional markers (CK7, CK20, CDX2, PAX8, estrogen receptor, β-catenin, MUC1, MUC2, and MUC5AC) to 2 novel proteins identified through mining of the Human Protein Atlas expression database: SATB2 and POF1B. The study cohort included 49 primary gastrointestinal (GI) mucinous adenocarcinomas (19 colorectal, 15 gastric, 15 pancreatobiliary), 60 primary ovarian mucinous neoplasms (19 cystadenomas, 21 borderline tumors, 20 adenocarcinomas), and 19 metastatic carcinomas to the ovary (14 lower and 5 upper GI primaries). Immunohistochemistry was performed on tissue microarrays, scored and interpreted as negative (absent or focal/weak) or positive. Metastatic tumors were frequently unilateral (42.8% of tumors from lower and 40% of tumors from upper tract) and ≥10 cm (85.7% of tumors from lower and 80% of tumors from upper tract). CK7 was positive in 88.5% upper GI and 88.3% primary ovarian compared with 24.3% lower GI neoplasms. CK20 and CDX2 were positive in 84.8% and 100% of lower GI tumors, respectively; however, expression was also common in upper GI (CK20 42.8%, CDX2 50%) and primary ovarian neoplasms (CK20 65.7%, CDX2 38.3%). Conversely, SATB2 was more specific for lower GI origin, being positive in 78.8% lower GI but only 11.5% upper GI and 1.7% primary ovarian neoplasms. PAX8 expression was common in primary ovarian neoplasms (75% of all neoplasms, 65% of carcinomas); only 1 (1.5%) GI tumor was positive. MUC2 and β-catenin were frequently positive in lower GI tumors (96.9% and 51.5%, respectively). Estrogen receptor expression was only seen in primary ovarian neoplasms (13.3%). Nuclear premature ovarian failure 1B (POF1B) expression was seen in malignant tumors regardless of their origin. A panel including CK7, SATB2, and PAX8 separated primary from secondary GI neoplasms with up to 77.1% sensitivity and 99% specificity, outperforming tumor laterality and size. Second-line markers such as CDX2, MUC2, estrogen receptor, MUC1, and β-catenin increased the sensitivity of immunohistochemistry in excluding lower GI origin. Biomarker search using proteomic databases has a value in diagnostic pathology, as shown with SATB2; however, as seen with POF1B, expression profiles in these databases are not always reproduced in larger cohorts.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (S.C., J.K.W., A.G., B.D., C.P.H.), University of Ottawa

The Ottawa Hospital and Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (S.C., J.K.W., B.D., C.P.H.), Ottawa, ON, Canada

Supplemental Digital Content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Website,

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Carlos Parra-Herran, MD, FCAP, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Ottawa, 501 Smyth Rd CCW 4th floor, Room W4221, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1H 8L6. E-mail:

©2016International Society of Gynecological Pathologists