To determine whether the content of the matrix protein tenascin-C (Tn-C) is of diagnostic or prognostic value in cervical lesions, we evaluated increases in Tn-C immunoreactivity in 80 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded biopsies and surgical specimens of the uterine cervix. Tn-C content in the basement membrane zone and in the stroma was graded and compared to some prognostic parameters. In the normal cervix, Tn-C formed a thin continuous band. In cervicitis, Tn-C bands thickened in the basement membrane zone and the adjacent stroma in the form of thin filaments. In 30 squamous intraepithelial lesions (SILs) of various grades, Tn-C bands were either slightly (1+) or moderately (2+) thickened in the basement membrane zone, while slight stromal Tn-C immunoreactivity in the form of thin bands was observed in 12 cases, regardless of grade and inflammatory stromal reaction. In invasive carcinoma, Tn-C content was markedly increased in the stroma and around the invasive nests of tumors. The intensity of Tn-C immunoreactivity was significantly higher in grade I tumors than in others (p < 0.04). The intensity of increase in Tn-C immunoreactivity was 10.5-fold (95% CI 3.39-32.5) higher in invasive cervical carcinomas than in others (cervicitis, low-grade SIL and high-grade SIL) (p = 0.0001). A significant correlation was found between weak Tn-C immunoreactivity and lymphatic space invasion (p = 0.001), lymph node metastasis (p = 0.01), desmoplastic stromal component (p = 0.0001) and stromal inflammation (p = 0.002). In conclusion, increase in Tn-C immunoreactivity may be of value in the assessment of noninvasive and invasive cervical lesions and the appearance of Tn-C may be an indicator of adequate biologic defense in cervical cancer patients.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.