OCT4 staining in testicular tumors: A sensitive and specific marker for seminoma and embryonal carcinoma

Timothy D. Jones, Thomas M. Ulbright, John N. Eble, Lee Ann Baldridge, Liang Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

226 Scopus citations


OCT4 (POU5F1) is a transcription factor expressed in embryonic stem and germ cells and is involved in the regulation and maintenance of pluripotency. It has been detected in primary testicular germ cell tumors with pluripotent potential, seminoma, and embryonal carcinoma. We undertook immunohistochemical staining of OCT4 in a wide variety of primary testicular neoplasms (germ cell tumors and other tumors) to assess the specificity and usefulness of this marker as a diagnostic tool. We examined histologic sections from 91 primary testicular neoplasms, including 64 cases of mixed germ cell tumors containing embryonal carcinoma (54), seminoma (51), yolk sac tumor (38), mature teratoma (31), immature teratoma (20), and choriocarcinoma (15). In addition, we examined sections from spermatocytic seminomas (5), Leydig cell tumors (8), Sertoli cell tumors (6), unclassified sex-cord stromal tumors (4), adenomatoid tumors (2), testicular tumor of adrenogenital syndrome (1), and granulosa cell tumor (1). Each tumor was examined with hematoxylin and eosin staining and with antibodies to OCT4. In all cases of mixed germ cell tumor with components of embryonal carcinoma (54) and seminoma (51), there was greater than 90% nuclear staining of the embryonal carcinoma and seminoma tumor cells with little to no background staining. In all but I of these cases (embryonal carcinoma), there was strong (3+) staining intensity. The other germ cell tumor components (yolk sac tumor, mature teratoma, immature teratoma, and choriocarcinoma) showed no staining. Syncytiotrophoblast cells, which were present in 15 of the cases, were also completely negative, as were all 5 of the spermatocytic seminomas. The 22 cases of non-germ cell tumors were all immunohistochemically negative for OCT4. Fifteen of the 54 germ cell tumors containing embryonal carcinoma were also examined with antibodies to CD30. These embryonal carcinoma components were all positive for CD30 with staining of greater than 90% of the tumor cells but with variable staining intensity. We conclude that immunostaining with antibodies to OCT4 is a useful diagnostic tool in the identification of primary testicular embryonal carcinomas and "usual," but not spermatocytic, seminomas. OCT4 immunostaining has comparable sensitivity but greater consistency compared with CD30 in the diagnosis of embryonal carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-940
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2004


  • Biomarker
  • CD30
  • Embryonal carcinoma
  • Germ cell tumors
  • Neoplasia
  • Oct3/4
  • POU5F1
  • Seminoma
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'OCT4 staining in testicular tumors: A sensitive and specific marker for seminoma and embryonal carcinoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this