Recent advances in immunohistochemistry in gynaecological pathology

Histopathology. 2002 Apr;40(4):309-26. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2559.2002.01384.x.


Recent years have witnessed significant developments in the use of immunohistochemistry in diagnostic gynaecological pathology. This review details the most significant of these. In ovarian pathology, differential cytokeratin staining (CK7 and 20) assists in distinguishing between a primary ovarian adenocarcinoma and a metastatic adenocarcinoma, especially of colorectal origin. The development of markers characteristic of ovarian sex cord-stromal tumours (especially alpha-inhibin) facilitates diagnosis of these neoplasms which is often difficult by morphology alone due to the wide differential diagnosis. In the uterus, the distinction between a primary endometrial and endocervical adenocarcinoma may be facilitated by use of a small panel of antibodies, including CEA, ER and vimentin. Newly developed antibodies such as CD10 and h-caldesmon may be of use in the diagnosis of uterine mesenchymal lesions, especially in the distinction between endometrial stromal and smooth muscle lesions. Proliferation markers, such as MIB1, are of value in the cervix in the diagnosis of preinvasive squamous and glandular lesions. Recent studies have shown that cervical adenoma malignum exhibits a gastric phenotype. Advances have also been made in trophoblastic disease with the development of antibodies reactive against trophoblast such as alpha-inhibin, mel-Cam and p57. A newly developed monoclonal antibody HMGIC which is expressed in vulvovaginal aggressive angiomyxoma may prove to be of value in the often difficult distinction of this lesion from its histological mimics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / metabolism
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Uterine Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor