Clear cell tumor of the lung. A clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural study of eight cases

Am J Surg Pathol. 1990 Mar;14(3):248-59. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199003000-00006.


We studied eight clear cell tumors of the lung (CCTL) to better define their clinical, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural features, and to clarify their distinction from other neoplasms, particularly metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Patients ranged in age from 31 to 67 years (mean, 51 years). Seven patients had clinically benign, asymptomatic lesions measuring less than 2 cm in diameter that were devoid of necrosis. The eighth patient had a symptomatic, partially necrotic CCTL 4.5 cm in diameter that metastasized to the liver and peritoneum; the patient died of tumor 17 years after diagnosis. Ultrastructural study of seven CCTL showed interdigitating cell processes (all cases), primitive cell junctions (five of seven cases), intracytoplasmic glycogen (all cases), and rare dense core granules (two of seven cases). Immunohistochemically, paraffin-embedded sections from all eight CCTL were negative for cytokeratin (CK), epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), chromogranin, and vimentin. Focal staining was seen for S-100 protein (three of eight cases), neuron-specific enolase (three cases), synaptophysin (one case), and Leu 7 (one case). Although these findings suggest that at least some CCTL exhibit neuroendocrine differentiation, the tumor's histogenesis remains uncertain. Of more practical importance, the combined absence of CK, EMA, and vimentin in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded CCTL virtually precludes confusion with renal cell carcinoma. Although traditionally considered benign, CCTL larger than 2 cm that are symptomatic, and focally necrotic should be regarded as potentially malignant neoplasms.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Differentiation / analysis
  • CD57 Antigens
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Cytoplasm / pathology
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / pathology
  • Female
  • Glycogen / analysis
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Organelles / pathology
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / analysis
  • S100 Proteins / analysis
  • Synaptophysin


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • CD57 Antigens
  • Membrane Proteins
  • S100 Proteins
  • Synaptophysin
  • Glycogen
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase