Oncofetal Protein Glypican-3 Distinguishes Yolk Sac Tumor From Clear Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary
Clear cell carcinoma (CCC) of the ovary is the surface epithelial neoplasm most often confused with primitive germ cell tumors, particularly yolk sac tumor (YST) and dysgerminoma. OCT3/4 has proven to be a sensitive and relatively specific marker for the latter entity, but existing markers for YST are limited. Recent studies suggest that glypican-3 (GPC3), an oncofetal protein expressed in fetal liver and malignant tumors of hepatocytic lineage, is also expressed in germ cell tumors, particularly YST. To investigate whether GPC3 is useful in distinguishing YST from ovarian CCC, we studied the expression of GPC3 in a large series of ovarian neoplasms and compared it to the expression profiles of CK7 and alpha-fetoprotein. Tissue microarrays containing over 400 benign and malignant ovarian neoplasms, including 34 CCCs were stained with monoclonal GPC3 (clone 1G12, Biomosaics, Burlington, VT). These arrays contained a wide assortment of ovarian surface epithelial neoplasms and sex cord stromal neoplasms, as well as germ cell tumors. Full paraffin tissue sections from 32 YSTs and 10 CCCs were also assessed. All but one YST (97%), including those associated with mixed germ cell tumor were positive for GPC3, whereas all teratomas and embryonal carcinomas were negative. Both cytoplasmic and membrane staining were present in the positive cases, with no background staining. The syncytiotrophoblastic cells in the germ cell tumors and placental villi included in the arrays were also positive for GPC3. Most CCCs (83%) were completely negative for GPC3, as were 99% serous, 94% endometrioid, and 100% mucinous tumors. Five CCCs exhibited focal, moderate to strong GPC3 expression and in 2 the expression was focal and weak. All other tissues, including normal ovary were negative for GPC3. GPC3 seems to be a promising diagnostic marker for differentiating YST from ovarian CCC (P < 0.0001). Because GPC3 may be associated with alpha-fetoprotein expression, further studies are required to determine the utility of GPC3 in differentiating YST from CCC with hepatoid differentiation.
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