Mucinous nonneoplastic cyst of the pancreas: apomucin phenotype distinguishes this entity from intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm

Wenqing Cao, Brain P. Adley, Jie Liao, Xiaoqi Lin, Mark Talamonti, David J. Bentrem, Sambasiva M. Rao*, Guang Yu Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Mucinous nonneoplastic cyst of the pancreas is a newly described and rare cystic lesion with unknown histogenesis. It is defined as a cystic lesion lined with mucinous epithelium, supported by hypocellular stroma and not communicating with the pancreatic ducts. It is very challenging to differentiate this lesion from other cystic mucinous neoplasms of the pancreas such as branch-duct intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm by morphology. In this study, a total of 436 pancreatic specimens resected between 2002 and 2007 in our institution were reviewed. Fifteen (3.4%, 15/436) mucinous nonneoplastic cysts were identified. They included 3 males and 12 females, with a median age of 60 years. Forty-six percent of cases (7/15) occurred in pancreatic head, 27% (4/15) in neck, 7% (1/15) in body, and 20% (3/15) in tail. The size of lesions ranged from 0.5 to 3.5 cm in greatest dimension. In most cases (12/15, 80%), mucinous nonneoplastic cyst was associated or adjacent to acinar-ductal mucinous metaplasia. These morphologic data indicate that mucinous nonneoplastic cyst is not really a rare disease and may originate from acinar-duct mucinous metaplasia histogenestically. Furthermore, apomucin immunostains of mucinous nonneoplastic cyst showed MUC1 expressed in 27% (4/15) cases, MUC5AC in 67% (10/15 cases), and MUC2 was were negative in all cases, whereas intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (n = 17; 5 main duct type, 12 branch-duct type) showed focal and weak MUC1 positivity in 18% (3/17) cases, MUC2 positivity in 71% (12/17) cases, and all intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (17/17) were MUC5AC positive. The clonality assay with the HUMARA gene revealed that the mucinous nonneoplastic cysts were of polyclonal origin. For the first time, using HUMARA assay, we demonstrate the nonneoplastic nature of these cysts and further characterize morphologic and immunophenotypic properties that allow differentiation from intraductal papillary mucinous neooplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-521
Number of pages9
JournalHuman pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Clonality
  • IPMN
  • Mucin phenotype
  • Mucinous nonneoplastic cyst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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