A morphological and immunohistochemical study of plasma cell proliferative lesions

Malays J Pathol. 1992 Jun;14(1):45-8.


Monoclonal plasma cell proliferative diseases such as multiple myeloma and plasmacytoma can involve extramedullary sites at the time of first presentation, or subsequently in the course of the disease. Under such circumstances, they can mimic primary or metastatic carcinomas, neuroendocrine or neuroectodermal tumours and lymphomas, and the pathologist often has to resort to immunohistochemistry as an aid to diagnosis. We studied the morphology and immunohistochemical properties of 10 cases of previously confirmed monoclonal plasma cell proliferative lesions retrieved from the files of the Department of Pathology, University of Malaya. Serial 4u thick paraffin sections were stained with H&E, the Unna-Pappenheim technique for nucleic acid and a panel of antibodies using a standard immunoperoxidase technique. Light chain restriction was demonstrable in most of the cases. Seven (70%) showed kappa and 2 (20%) lambda light chain restriction. The remaining case was not stainable with most of the antibodies in the panel. The majority (80%) of cases showed accompanying IgG heavy chain in the cytoplasm, while 1 case had IgA. Seven (70%) showed membrane positivity with antibody to epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) and 7 (70%) cytoplasmic positivity with antibody to vimentin. This study enhances our awareness that neoplastic plasma cells can be positive for EMA and vimentin, and cautions us from misinterpreting these lesions as carcinomas or sarcomas. Notwithstanding that, immunohistochemical staining for kappa and lambda light chains can be helpful in differentiating monoclonal plasma cell proliferations from polyclonal ones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Mucin-1
  • Multiple Myeloma / pathology*
  • Plasmacytoma / chemistry
  • Plasmacytoma / pathology*
  • Vimentin / analysis


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Mucin-1
  • Vimentin