Hum Pathol 2012 Nov 28;43(11):1799-807. Epub 2012 Jun 28.
Department of Pathology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
Distinguishing adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus is often based on morphological criteria and can be difficult in small biopsies. We analyzed commonly used immunohistochemical markers (p63, cytokeratin 5/6, cytokeratin 7, CDX2, MUC2, and MUC5AC) and 2 new markers, anterior gradient homolog 2 and SOX2, in esophageal carcinomas to establish the best panel to distinguish these tumors. Tissue microarrays with 69 esophageal adenocarcinomas and 41 whole sections of esophageal squamous cell carcinomas were stained for these markers and semiquantitatively scored. Sensitivities and specificities were calculated for individual markers and select combinations using the morphological diagnosis as a gold standard. All squamous cell carcinomas expressed p63 with 38 of 41 demonstrating reactivity in more than 75% of tumor cells. Cytokeratin 5/6 expression was seen in 40 of 41 squamous cell carcinomas with 39 of 41 demonstrating reactivity in more than 75% of tumor cells. SOX2 expression was present in 35 of 41 of squamous cell carcinomas but also in 24 of 69 of adenocarcinomas, frequently demonstrating extensive reactivity in adenocarcinomas. Anterior gradient homolog 2 was highly sensitive for adenocarcinoma and present in 68 of 69 of cases, but anterior gradient homolog 2 reactivity was also identified in 15 of 41 of squamous cell carcinomas, typically demonstrating focal reactivity in squamous cell carcinoma. MUC5AC expression was seen almost exclusively in adenocarcinomas with only a single squamous cell carcinoma demonstrating focal MUC5AC staining. Overall, the dual expression of both p63 and cytokeratin 5/6 was 99% specific and 98% sensitive for squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, anterior gradient homolog 2 and MUC5AC are useful positive markers of adenocarcinoma in the setting of absent or diminished p63 and cytokeratin 5/6 staining.