CDX2 is a useful marker of intestinal-type differentiation: a tissue microarray-based study of 629 tumors from various sites

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2005 Sep;129(9):1100-5. doi: 10.1043/1543-2165(2005)129[1100:CIAUMO]2.0.CO;2.


Context: CDX2, a critical nuclear transcription factor for intestinal development, is expressed in intestinal epithelium and adenocarcinomas.

Objectives: To determine if CDX2 is a useful marker for intestinal-type differentiation and to correlate tumor histology with CDX2 staining in colorectal adenocarcinomas.

Design: Tissue microarrays from 71 colorectal adenocarcinomas, 31 hepatocellular carcinomas, 47 lung adenocarcinomas, 55 squamous cell carcinomas of the lung, 69 neuroendocrine carcinomas of the lung and 43 of the pancreas, 57 pancreatic adenocarcinomas, and 256 endometrial adenocarcinomas were stained with antibody against CDX2.

Results: CDX2 staining was positive in 51 (71.8%) of 71 colorectal cancers, including 38 (74.5%) of 51 well- or moderately differentiated tumors and 13 (65.0%) of 20 high-grade tumors. Of the high-grade tumors, 5 (71.4%) of 7 mucinous, 3 (100%) of 3 signet ring cell, and 5 (50.0%) of 10 poorly differentiated tumors were positive. Other tumors showing occasional CDX2 staining included 1 of 30 well- or moderately differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas of the lung and 2 of 43 from the pancreas, 1 of 47 lung adenocarcinomas, 3 of 57 pancreatic adenocarcinomas, and 15 of 256 endometrial carcinomas. Hepatocellular, poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma of the lung and squamous cell carcinomas of the lung were not immunoreactive for CDX2.

Conclusions: CDX2 is a useful marker for intestinal-type differentiation, is rarely seen in tumors from the other sites evaluated, and may be useful in determining the site of origin for some metastatic tumors. However, CDX2 is not a sensitive marker for poorly differentiated colorectal carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • CDX2 Transcription Factor
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Histocytological Preparation Techniques
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Array Analysis / methods*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CDX2 Transcription Factor
  • CDX2 protein, human
  • Homeodomain Proteins