Renal lymphatics, and lymphatic involvement in sinus vein invasive (pT3b) clear cell renal cell carcinoma: a study of 40 cases

Mod Pathol. 2006 May;19(5):746-53. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3800589.


Although renal sinus vein invasion is the most common site of extrarenal involvement in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CC), CC also spreads by lymphatics. As cortical lymphatics drain into the sinus, some involved sinus structures may be lymphatics, not veins. This possibility was investigated with podoplanin, a specific lymphatic endothelial marker, in 40 CC with sinus vein invasion. Ten blocks of uninvolved kidney, serving as controls, showed lymphatics within the adventitia of midcortical intralobular arteries. Lymphatics became more numerous and enlarged with progression towards the medulla. No lymphatics were among glomeruli or within the medulla unless associated with inflammation. The largest lymphatics occurred within the sinus, and were also noted within pelvic muscularis, and media of large veins. Intralymphatic tumor was observed and divided into two Groups. Group 1 (four cases) involved lymphatics within the invasive edge of tumors lacking a pseudocapsule. The lymphatics were small (0.045-0.19 mm), irregularly shaped, often incomplete, and contained single cells or small clusters of tumor cells. Group 2 (four cases) involved sinus lymphatics separate from tumor. One case each also involved adventitial lymphatics of an intralobular artery, the muscularis of the renal pelvis, and media of a muscular vein. The intralymphatic tumor in Group 2 often appeared discohesive, not endothelial cell invested, and larger than in Group 1 (0.4-0.5 mm). Conversely, tumor within muscular veins was cohesive, contained a capillary plexis, and was endothelial cell invested. In conclusion, intralymphatic tumor can be demonstrated in CC. Lymphatic involvement is less frequent than venous involvement and involves smaller structures. The potential for lymphatic spread may not be equal among involved lymphatics. Small peritumoral lymphatics may be destined for destruction by tumor growth. However, involved lymphatics within sinus and associated with renal pelvis, are likely sources for lymphatic spread and lymph node metastases.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / blood supply
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney Cortex / blood supply
  • Kidney Cortex / chemistry
  • Kidney Cortex / pathology
  • Kidney Medulla / blood supply
  • Kidney Medulla / chemistry
  • Kidney Medulla / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Kidney Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Lymphatic Vessels / chemistry
  • Lymphatic Vessels / pathology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis*
  • Muscle, Smooth / chemistry
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Veins / chemistry
  • Veins / pathology


  • Actins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • PDPN protein, human
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1