Primary mediastinal seminoma: A comprehensive assessment integrated with histology, immunohistochemistry, and fluorescence in situ hybridization for chromosome 12p abnormalities in 23 cases

Ming Tse Sung, Gregory T. MacLennan, Antonio Lopez-Beltran, Shaobo Zhang, Rodolfo Montironi, Liang Cheng

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44 Scopus citations


Accurate diagnosis of mediastinal seminoma is critical because of its favorable response to radiation therapy and/or cisplatin-based chemotherapy. Immunohistochemical staining for OCT4 has recently been validated as a powerful tool for detecting gonadal seminoma. However, discrepancies between the genetic alterations and immunoprofiles of mediastinal and testicular seminomas have been reported, raising the question of whether techniques that are useful in the diagnosis of gonadal seminoma are applicable to its mediastinal counterpart. The present study was conducted to evaluate the morphologic and immunohistochemical characteristics and chromosomal abnormalities of 12p in 23 primary mediastinal seminomas and to compare their applicability as diagnostic tools. Dual-color fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analyses for chromosome 12p and immunostains for OCT4, c-kit, placental-like alkaline phosphatase, CD30, and a panel of cytokeratins, including cytokeratin AE1/AE3 (AE1/3), high molecular weight cytokeratin (34βE12, HMWCK), CAM5.2, cytokeratin 7 (CK7), cytokeratin 20 (CK20), and epithelial membrane antigen were performed. Lymphocytic infiltration was found in all 23 cases (100%). The incidence of other histologic characteristics were as follows: fibrous septa/stroma (21 cases, 91%), prominent tumor cell nucleoli (21 cases, 91%), clear tumor cell cytoplasm (20 cases, 87%), distinct tumor cell borders (20 cases, 87%), granulomatous inflammation (17 cases, 74%), cellular pleomorphism (10 cases, 43%), necrosis (8 cases, 35%), prominent cystic change (2 cases, 8%), intercellular edema (1 case, 4%), and syncytiotrophoblasts (1 case, 4%). The mean mitotic count was 4.4 (range 0 to 16) per 10 high-power fields. Moderate to strong nuclear OCT4 staining was identified in all 23 cases (100%). Seventeen tumors (74%) showed membranous expression of c-kit, with variable staining intensity and percentages. Weakly to moderately intense immunostaining for placental-like alkaline phosphatase was identified in 10 cases (43%) with occasional background staining artifact. The incidences of positive staining were 43% for AE1/3, 39% for HMWCK, 48% for CAM5.2, 39% for CK7, and 9% for epithelial membrane antigen, respectively. In most cases, these epithelial markers highlighted only a small proportion of tumor cells with variable intensities. Immunostaining for CD30 and CK20 was completely negative in all seminomas. Twenty-two seminomas (96%) revealed chromosome 12p abnormalities, including 12p amplification in 20 cases (87%) or i(12p) in 15 cases (65%). Lymphocytic infiltration is the most common histologic feature observed in primary mediastinal seminoma and both OCT4 immunostain and FISH for 12p abnormalities can be very helpful in diagnosing mediastinal seminoma. The intense staining pattern of OCT4 and the high sensitivity of FISH make them superior to other auxiliary diagnostic utilities for detecting seminoma. In addition, the incidences of cytokeratin expression of primary mediastinal seminoma are similar to those of its gonadal counterpart and pathologists must exercise caution in the interpretation of epithelial markers in mediastinal neoplasms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-155
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Biomarker
  • Chromosome 12p
  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization
  • Germ cell tumor
  • Mediastinum
  • Neoplasia
  • Seminoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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