OCT4: A Novel Biomarker for Dysgerminoma of the Ovary

Am J Surg Pathol. 2004 Oct;28(10):1341-6. doi: 10.1097/01.pas.0000135528.03942.1f.


The prognosis and therapy for dysgerminomas are different from those of other ovarian tumor types, making accurate diagnosis imperative for patient care. OCT4 (POU5F1) is a transcription factor involved in the regulation of pluripotency during embryonic development. It can be detected in both pluripotent cells and other early germ cells. This study examines the expression of OCT4 in both dysgerminoma and nondysgerminomatous neoplasms involving the ovary. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded cell blocks of 33 cases of dysgerminoma including 2 cases of gonadoblastoma associated with dysgerminoma and 3 cases of metastatic dysgerminoma, and 111 cases of nondysgerminomatous neoplasms involving the ovary were stained using the antibody against OCT4. All cases of dysgerminomas and gonadoblastomas were positive for OCT4 with strong nuclear staining. More than 90% of dysgerminoma cells in each case showed diffuse strong nuclear staining. In addition, 3 metastatic dysgerminomas also showed uniform strong nuclear staining. All nondysgerminomatous tumors (mature teratoma, 14; yolk sac tumor, 4; Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor, 15; granulosa cell tumor, 22; Brenner tumor, 3; carcinoid tumor, 4; struma ovarii, 2; fibroma, 5; thecoma, 1; serous adenocarcinoma, 5; endometrioid adenocarcinoma, 4; small cell carcinoma, 6; stromal sarcoma, 1; malignant lymphoma, 6; metastatic malignant melanoma, 1; metastatic carcinoid, 2; metastatic small cell carcinoma, 1; and metastatic lobular carcinoma of the breast, 1) were negative for OCT4, except for some cases of clear cell adenocarcinoma of the ovary. Four of 14 clear cell adenocarcinomas showed focal positive nuclear immunoreactivity for OCT4. OCT4 is a sensitive and relatively specific biomarker for the detection of dysgerminoma. It may also be useful in the diagnosis of gonadoblastoma, which contains similar cells and may be associated with dysgerminoma. OCT4 may aid in the detection of small foci of metastatic dygerminoma in extraovarian sites and may also help distinguish dysgerminoma from other primary and metastatic tumors of the ovary.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / pathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Child
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dysgerminoma / metabolism*
  • Dysgerminoma / pathology
  • Female
  • Gonadoblastoma / metabolism
  • Gonadoblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • POU5F1 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors