Unique expression of MUC3, MUC5AC and cytokeratins in salivary gland carcinomas

Pathol Int. 2005 Jul;55(7):386-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1827.2005.01842.x.


The differential diagnosis of salivary gland carcinoma is often difficult because of the confusing histopathological features of the different types of salivary gland carcinomas. The expression of MUC3, MUC5AC, MUC6, cytokeratin (CK)7 and CK20 was studied in 20 mucoepidermoid carcinomas (MEC), 20 adenoid cystic carcinomas (AdCC), and 11 acinic cell carcinomas (ACC). All the cases (51/51, 100%) were positive for CK7, but they were not positive for CK20. All the cases (100%) of the MEC were positive for MUC5AC, while all MEC (100%) were negative for MUC3. Only two cases (10%) were positive for MUC6. All cases (100%) of AdCC were negative for MUC3, MUC5AC and MUC6. Eight cases (73%) of ACC were positive for MUC3, but all the cases (100%) were negative for MUC5AC and MUC6. It is concluded that the positive expression of MUC5AC is very unique to MEC, and that the positive expression of MUC3 is very unique to ACC. These findings will be very useful for the differential diagnosis of the salivary gland carcinomas.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis*
  • Carcinoma, Acinar Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Acinar Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Mucoepidermoid / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Mucoepidermoid / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Keratin-20
  • Keratin-7
  • Keratins / biosynthesis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucin 5AC
  • Mucin-3
  • Mucins / biosynthesis
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • KRT20 protein, human
  • KRT7 protein, human
  • Keratin-20
  • Keratin-7
  • MUC5AC protein, human
  • Mucin 5AC
  • Mucin-3
  • Mucins
  • Keratins