Comparative analysis of alternative and traditional immunohistochemical markers for the distinction of ovarian sertoli cell tumor from endometrioid tumors and carcinoid tumor: A study of 160 cases

Am J Surg Pathol. 2007 Feb;31(2):255-66. doi: 10.1097/01.pas.0000213355.72638.f4.


The main neoplasms in the differential diagnosis for primary ovarian tumors with a tubule-rich pattern are pure Sertoli cell tumor, endometrioid tumors (including borderline tumor, well-differentiated carcinoma, and the sertoliform variant of endometrioid carcinoma), and carcinoid tumor. Because traditional immunohistochemical markers [pan-cytokeratin (pan-CK), low molecular weight cytokeratin (CK8/18), epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), inhibin, calretinin, CD99, chromogranin, and synaptophysin] can occasionally have diagnostic limitations, the goal of this study was to determine whether or not any alternative markers [cytokeratin 7 (CK7), estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), CD10, and CD56] have better diagnostic utility when compared with traditional markers for this differential diagnosis. Immunohistochemical stains for alternative, as well as traditional, markers were performed on the following primary ovarian tumors: pure Sertoli cell tumor (n = 40), endometrioid borderline tumor (n = 38), sertoliform endometrioid carcinoma (n = 13), well-differentiated endometrioid carcinoma (n = 27), and carcinoid tumor (n = 42). Extent and intensity of immunostaining were semiquantitatively scored. In addition, immunohistochemical composite scores (ICSs) in positive cases were calculated on the basis of the combination of extent and intensity scores. Cytokeratin 7 (CK7) was positive in 97% of endometrioid tumors, 13% of Sertoli cell tumors, and 24% of carcinoid tumors. The differences in the mean ICSs for endometrioid tumors versus Sertoli cell tumor or carcinoid tumor were statistically significant (P values ranging from <0.001 to 0.018). ER and PR were positive in 87% and 86% of endometrioid tumors, 8% and 13% of Sertoli cell tumors, and 2% each of carcinoid tumors, respectively. The differences in the mean ICSs for endometrioid tumors versus Sertoli cell tumor were statistically significant (P values ranging from <0.001 to 0.012). Among the epithelial markers, EMA seemed to be the most discriminatory but only slightly better than CK7, ER, or PR. Pan-CK and CK8/18 were not helpful. CD10 showed overlapping patterns of expression in all categories of tumors. Among the sex cord markers, CD10 was markedly less useful than inhibin or calretinin; CD99 was not discriminatory. CD56 showed overlapping patterns of expression in all categories of tumors. Among the neuroendocrine markers, CD56 was less useful than chromogranin or synaptophysin. When traditional immunohistochemical markers are problematic for the differential diagnosis of ovarian Sertoli cell tumor versus endometrioid tumors versus carcinoid tumor, adding CK7, ER, and/or PR to a panel of markers can be helpful. Endometrioid tumors more frequently express CK7, ER, and PR and show a greater extent of immunostaining in contrast to Sertoli cell tumor and carcinoid tumor. Compared with traditional epithelial markers, CK7, ER, and PR are nearly as advantageous as EMA. Inhibin is the most discriminatory sex cord marker, and CD10 is not helpful in the differential diagnosis. Chromogranin and synaptophysin are excellent discriminatory markers for carcinoid tumor, and CD56 is neither sufficiently sensitive nor specific enough for this differential diagnosis to warrant its use in routine practice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / chemistry
  • Carcinoid Tumor / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / diagnosis*
  • Cell Count
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / chemistry
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Sertoli Cell Tumor / chemistry
  • Sertoli Cell Tumor / diagnosis*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Neoplasm Proteins