A micropapillary pattern is predictive of a poor prognosis in lung adenocarcinoma, and reduced surfactant apoprotein A expression in the micropapillary pattern is an excellent indicator of a poor prognosis

Mod Pathol. 2007 Jun;20(6):638-47. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3800780. Epub 2007 Apr 13.


A micropapillary pattern is defined as papillary tufts without a fibrovascular core and is known to be a factor that indicates a poor prognosis in numerous cancers. However, their role in lung adenocarcinoma has not been investigated widely. In 185 cases of small-size lung adenocarcinoma (< or =3 cm), cases with a micropapillary pattern ratio of more than 1% (analyzed by NIH image) were defined as micropapillary pattern positive. Correlations between the micropapillary pattern and clinicopathological factors were investigated and immunohistochemical expression of mucin and various antigens was examined in regions with and without micropapillary patterns. Micropapillary pattern-positive tumors (micropapillary pattern ratio > or =1%) were observed in 11.4% of cases (21/185) and the micropapillary pattern ratio correlated with TNM stage (P=0.0002), lymphatic invasion (P=0.0002) and lymph node metastasis (P=0.03). Disease-free interval (P<0.0002) and survival (P=0.027) were significantly shorter for micropapillary pattern-positive patients, and micropapillary pattern-positive stage IA cases also had a significantly shorter disease-free interval (P<0.0001). MUC1 was expressed strongly across the surface of the micropapillary structure, whereas MUC4 tended to show lower expression in the micropapillary pattern. It was noteworthy that the disease-free interval in patients with high surfactant apoprotein A expression was significantly better than in patients with low surfactant apoprotein A expression (P=0.03), and no recurrence or death occurred in patients with high surfactant apoprotein A expression. Our results show that the micropapillary pattern ratio correlates with lymphatic invasion and lymph node metastasis, and that a high micropapillary pattern ratio leads to a poor prognosis. High MUC1 expression on the surface is an important characteristic of a micropapillary pattern, and reduced surfactant apoprotein A expression in the micropapillary pattern may be an excellent indicator for poor prognosis in small-size lung adenocarcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Apoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein A / biosynthesis*
  • Survival Rate


  • Apoproteins
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein A