Expression of cytokeratin 20 in mucinous bronchioloalveolar carcinoma

Rajshri N. Shah, Sunil Badve, Kashireddy Papreddy, Susanne Schindler, William B. Laskin, Anjana V Yeldandi

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63 Scopus citations


Mucinous bronchioloalveolar carcinomas (BACs) can closely mimic metastatic adenocarcinoma to the lung both clinically and morphologically. Several studies have demonstrated that the differential expression of cytokeratin 7 (CK7) and cytokeratin 20 (CK20) is a valuable diagnostic tool in differentiating primary pulmonary adenocarcinomas (PPAs) (usually CK7 positive/CK20 negative) from metastatic colonic adenocarcinoma (usually CK7 negative/CK20 positive). The present study is designed to correlate the histologic subtypes of PPA with expression of 7 and 20. A total of 113 cases of bonafide PPA were selected and classified according to the 1999 World Health Organization criteria as adenocarcinoma, NOS (n = 80), nonmucinous BAC (n = 14), and mucinous BAC (n = 19). Representive sections of all the tumors were immunohistochemically analyzed for CK7 and CK20 expression. To evaluate the diagnostic utility of CK7 and CK20 expression, 6 cases of colonic adenocarcinoma metastatic to the lung were tested with the same antibodies and compared with mucinous BAC. Results were expressed in a semiquantitative fashion based on the percentage of positive tumor cells: <10%, focal; 10% to 25%, 1+; 26% to 75%, 2+; ≥76%, 3+. All 113 PPAs exhibited strong, diffuse CK7 expression. With respect to CK20 expression, 17 of the 19 cases (89.4%) of mucinous BAC showed moderate to strong expression of this protein, whereas only 10 cases of conventional adenocarcinomas and 4 cases of nonmucinous BAC exhibited expression. All 6 examples of metastatic colonic adenocarcinomas were negative for CK7 and strongly positive for CK20. In summary, mucinous BAC is distinct from other PPAs by virtue of its CK20 expression. Although the CK7/CK20 immunoprofile is a valuable diagnostic marker for differentiating primary lung adenocarcinoma from metastatic colonic adenocarcinoma, caution should be exercised when dealing with mucinous BAC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-920
Number of pages6
JournalHuman pathology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Cytokeratin 20
  • Lung adenocarcinoma
  • Mucinous bronchioloalveolar carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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