Human pathology

Placental-like alkaline phosphatase reactivity in human tumors: an immunohistochemical study of 520 cases.

PMID 3623553


Placental-like alkaline phosphatase (PLAP) activity has been reported in various human neoplasms of both somatic and germ cell types. The expression of PLAP was examined with a polyclonal antibody and the immunoperoxidase technique in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections of 37 germ cell neoplasms and 483 somatic tumors. The expression of keratin and epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) was concurrently assessed to determine whether these stains were helpful in distinguishing germ cell neoplasms from somatic tumors that might mimic them microscopically. All germ cell lesions were reactive for PLAP, but so were 62 somatic carcinomas, usually in female müllerian, intestinal, and lung cancers and less often in carcinomas of the breast and kidney. PLAP-reactive somatic tumors exhibited EMA and keratin positivity in the absence of prior protease digestion, whereas germ cell neoplasms failed to do so. Malignant mesotheliomas were nonreactive for PLAP, as were carcinomas of the nasopharynx, adrenals, liver, pancreas, stomach, prostate, and urinary bladder. PLAP is a highly sensitive but nonspecific immunohistologic marker of germ cell differentiation. However, non-protease-enhanced stains for keratin and EMA allow separation of germ cell and somatic carcinomas, despite their shared capacity for PLAP expression. In somatic neoplasms, PLAP immunoreactivity might be of potential use in predicting possible primary sources for metastatic tumors of unknown origin.

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