CDX-2 Homeobox Gene Expression Is a Reliable Marker of Colorectal Adenocarcinoma Metastases to the Lungs
Lung metastases from colorectal carcinomas (CRC) can be resected with improved survival. The distinction between primary lung adenocarcinomas and metastases from CRC may sometimes be difficult, especially on cytologic specimens or small bronchoscopic biopsies. Immunohistochemistry may be of help in this setting: available markers include TTF-1 and SP-A, which are markers of lung origin, whereas there are no good markers of intestinal origin, besides cytokeratin 7 and 20 coexpression pattern, which is not very specific. The nuclear CDX-2 transcription factor, which is the product of a homeobox gene necessary for intestinal organogenesis, is expressed in normal colonic epithelia and most colorectal adenocarcinomas, and could potentially be of diagnostic usefulness. Our aim was to investigate CDX-2 immunohistochemical expression using a new monoclonal antibody and to verify if CDX-2 can be a reliable marker to identify the colorectal origin of lung metastases. CDX-2 expression was evaluated in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples of normal adult human tissues (50 samples) and in 299 surgically resected carcinomas of different origins, including 125 non-lung adenocarcinomas, 117 primary lung tumors, 5 mesotheliomas, and 52 adenocarcinomas metastatic to the lung. CDX-2 was also evaluated on a series of 20 bioptic and 10 cytologic specimens (5 cases of colorectal metastases to the lung, 5 cases of metastases from other organs, and 10 primary lung adenocarcinomas). In normal tissues CDX-2 immunoreactivity was observed only in ileal and colorectal epithelia. CDX-2 was expressed in almost all primary and metastatic CRC (88 of 90) and was never observed in primary lung tumors. CDX-2 was also expressed in a limited group of adenocarcinomas of other sites (gastric, biliopancreatic, and mucinous ovarian adenocarcinomas). CDX-2 could be easily detected in all bioptic and cytologic samples of CRC metastases. CDX-2 is a reliable, specific, and sensitive immunohistochemical marker of normal and neoplastic intestinal epithelium. CDX-2 can be easily applied to routine histologic and cytologic material and is therefore a useful marker in the differential diagnosis of primary versus metastatic adenocarcinomas in the lung, and among metastases from an unknown primary, supports intestinal origin.
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