Aims: Pleomorphic adenomas of the salivary glands are characterized by their high tissue diversity. Many studies have explored the derivation and differentiation of the neoplastic cells. We investigated the composition of the collagenous extracellular tumour matrix and could show a specific biochemical composition pattern in the different tumour areas.
Methods and results: In epithelially differentiated acinar and ductal areas there was positive staining for basement membrane collagen type IV and no, or only scarce, staining for collagen types I, II, III, or VI. Solid areas mostly lacked any extracellular matrix. In areas with fibrous tissue-like appearance, the fibroblast-typical interstitial collagen types I, III and VI were seen. Chondroid areas showed abundantly the characteristic cartilage components, collagen type II and, pericellularly, type VI collagen.
Conclusions: Our data show the presence of fibroblastic and chondrocytic cell differentiation in pleomorphic adenomas. Thus, they confirm that these neoplasms display, besides epithelial cell types, also real mesenchymal cell and tissue types. Differences in the abundance and the biochemical composition of the extracellular tumour matrix account largely for the morphological heterogeneity of pleomorphic adenomas of the salivary glands.