Background: Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) plays an important role in the biosynthesis of polyamines. Induction of ODC and polyamine synthesis has been demonstrated in neoplastic tumors and is thought to be related to the degree of malignancy.
Methods: In this study, we investigated a series of basal cell epitheliomas (BCE), Bowen's disease, squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), and metastatic tumors of the skin using an antibody against ODC for immunohistochemistry.
Results: Eight of 12 cases of BCE failed to show a positive reaction for ODC. In Bowen's disease, 5 of 13 cases diffusely showed positive reaction for ODC. Fourteen of 15 cases of SCC showed ODC expression, the intensity of which was decreased in the peripheral layer. At higher magnification, the distribution of ODC in the positive SCC cases showed granular and heterogenous patterns. Ten of 14 cases of metastatic skin tumors exhibited positive reactions, and well-differentiated adenocarcinomas tended to show more strongly positive than poorly-differentiated ones.
Conclusions: These results support the conclusion that the intensity and the incidence of positive immunohistochemical staining for ODC correlate with the degree of cellular differentiation, and furthermore, that heterogenous distribution of ODC staining may be associated with heterogeneity of tumor cells.