WT1 is differentially expressed in serous, endometrioid, clear cell, and mucinous carcinomas of the peritoneum, fallopian tube, ovary, and endometrium

Int J Gynecol Pathol. 2004 Apr;23(2):110-8. doi: 10.1097/00004347-200404000-00004.


The Wilms' tumor gene WT1 plays complex roles in the development of the organs of the genitourinary tract and mesothelium, as well as Wilms' tumors. Although its biologic role is still unclear, most serous carcinomas of the ovary and peritoneum, mesotheliomas, and Wilms' tumor have been shown to express WT1. A recent study, however, found no WT1 expression in serous carcinomas of the endometrium, suggesting that WT1 could be useful in identifying the primary site of serous carcinomas. We examined the expression of WT1 and p53 by immunohistochemistry in 69 cases of endometrial carcinoma (35 endometrioid, 18 clear cell, 16 serous), 68 cases of ovarian carcinoma (28 serous, 11 endometrioid, 18 clear cell, and 11 mucinous), 14 fallopian tube carcinomas (12 serous, 2 endometrioid), and 20 primary peritoneal serous carcinomas. WT1 nuclear reactivity of any extent and intensity was considered positive. Immunohistochemical stains were evaluated semiquantitatively using a four-tiered scale. Among endometrial carcinomas, WT1 immunoreactivity was seen in 10 of 16 serous, but in none of 35 endometrioid or 18 clear cell carcinomas. Among ovarian tumors, WT1 expression was seen in 24 of 28 serous and 4 of 18 clear cell carcinomas, but in none of 11 endometrioid and 11 mucinous tumors. All 12 serous carcinomas but none of 2 endometrioid carcinomas of the fallopian tube were positive for WT1. WT1 expression was seen in 19 of 20 serous primary peritoneal carcinomas. The difference in WT1 expression was highly significant between serous and other types of tumors in all sites (p<0.0001, chi-square test), although the level of WT1 expression was significantly different among serous carcinomas arising at different sites (p<0.0001, Kruskal-Wallis test). A significant positive correlation was found between the level of p53 and WT1 expression in all carcinomas combined (r = 0.3935, p<0.0001, Spearman test), but when only serous carcinomas were analyzed, the correlation between p53 and WT1 expression levels did not reach statistical significance. Our results suggest that WT1 expression in epithelial tumors of the female genital tract may be related to cell differentiation and histologic subtypes of carcinomas, rather than to primary site of origin.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Carcinoma / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / metabolism*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / biosynthesis
  • WT1 Proteins / biosynthesis*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • WT1 Proteins