Medullary carcinoma of the ampulla has distinct clinicopathologic characteristics including common association with microsatellite instability and PD-L1 expression

Yue Xue, Serdar Balci, Burcin Pehlivanoglu, Takashi Muraki, Bahar Memis, Burcu Saka, Grace Kim, Sudeshna Bandyopadhyay, Jessica Knight, Bassel El-Rayes, David Kooby, Shishir K. Maithel, Juan Sarmiento, Olca Basturk, Michelle D. Reid, Volkan Adsay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medullary carcinomas have not yet been fully characterized in the ampulla. Here, 359 ampullary carcinomas (ACs) were reviewed and 11 medullary-type carcinomas (3%) were found and analyzed. In addition to the diagnostic medullary pattern, 6 showed focal mucinous and 8 had focal abortive gland-like formations. They occurred in younger patients (57 versus 65 y; P = .02), had larger invasion size (mean, 3.2 versus 1.9 cm; P = .01), formed nodular polypoid or plaque-like tumors, and often lacked preinvasive component. In addition to the lymphoplasmacytic infiltrates, they also had prominent eosinophils in 5 of 11 cases. Eight were papilla Vateri-NOS (not otherwise specified) tumors, 2 were ampullary-duodenal origin, 1 had a minor intra-ampullary papillary tubular neoplasm component, and none were ampullary-ductal. Although they had pushing-border infiltration, perineural and vascular invasion was common. They were strongly associated with DNA mismatch repair (MMR) protein deficient (7/11, 64%). The 5-yr survival rate (53%) appeared to be comparable with, and perhaps even better than that of nonmedullary ACs (47%), although this did not reach statistical significance (P = .47). Programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1) expression levels were assessed in 8, and all 4 that were MMR deficient were positive both by combined positive score (CPS) ≥1 and tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥1, and of the 4 MMR proficient cases, 3 were positive by CPS; 2 by TPS. Overall, only 1 of the 8 available for analysis failed to show PD-L1 positivity by CPS. In contrast, nonmedullary MMR-deficient carcinomas expressed PD-L1 in only 33% of tumors by CPS, and none by TPS. One medullary carcinoma was also EBV associated. Unlike ‘medullary carcinomas’ of the kidney, INI1 was retained in all 8 cases tested. In conclusion, medullary carcinomas are 3% of ACs, have a strong association with MMR-D, and may be less aggressive despite their larger size. PD-L1 expression appears to be closely associated with medullary ACs regardless of MMR status, and thus targeted therapies can be considered for all medullary carcinomas of this site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-46
Number of pages9
JournalHuman pathology
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Ampullary carcinoma
  • DNA mismatch repair protein
  • Medullary carcinoma
  • Programmed cell death ligand-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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