h-Caldesmon, a novel smooth muscle-specific antibody, distinguishes between cellular leiomyoma and endometrial stromal sarcoma

Am J Surg Pathol. 2001 Feb;25(2):253-8. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200102000-00014.


The difficulty in distinguishing between smooth muscle and endometrial stromal-derived neoplasms of the uterine corpus is a notorious and clinically relevant problem in pathology of the female genital tract. Immunohistochemistry offers some aid in resolving this difficulty, because the expression of smooth muscle markers is reputed to indicate smooth muscle derivation. This expression, however, is not entirely specific, and difficult cases may still present in which immunohistochemistry is of little help. To explore this problem, the authors evaluated the expression of traditional muscle markers and high-molecular-weight caldesmon (h-cal), an actin and tropomyosin binding protein that has recently been described as a useful muscle marker, in uterine leiomyosarcoma (LMS), cellular leiomyomata (CL), and endometrial stromal sarcoma (ESS). Formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue sections from nine LMSs, 11 CLs, and 12 ESSs were evaluated with commercially available monoclonal antibodies against smooth muscle actin (SMA), desmin, and h-cal. Established morphologic criteria were used to classify the neoplasms. We found that there was, as expected, a significant difference in the expression of traditional smooth muscle markers (SMA and desmin) between tumors derived from smooth muscle and those derived from endometrial stroma (p = 0.005 for LMS and 0.013 for CL). We further found that h-cal was most useful in distinguishing between CL and ESS (p = 0.01). A significant difference between h-cal expression in LMS versus ESS was not found. Of note, one ESS expressed both SMA and desmin but lacked h-cal expression. Our findings confirm the most useful immunohistochemical data to date; smooth muscle neoplasms are generally distinguishable from endometrial stromal tumors by the expression of conventional muscle markers. We also report here that h-cal is useful more specifically in the differentiation of CL from ESS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Actins / analysis
  • Biomarkers
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins / immunology
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Count
  • Desmin / analysis
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leiomyoma / metabolism
  • Leiomyoma / pathology*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Myometrium / metabolism
  • Sarcoma, Endometrial Stromal / chemistry
  • Sarcoma, Endometrial Stromal / metabolism
  • Sarcoma, Endometrial Stromal / pathology*


  • Actins
  • Biomarkers
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins
  • Desmin