Ovarian mucinous tumors associated with mature cystic teratomas: morphologic and immunohistochemical analysis identifies a subset of potential teratomatous origin that shares features of lower gastrointestinal tract mucinous tumors more commonly encountered as secondary tumors in the ovary

Am J Surg Pathol. 2007 Jun;31(6):854-69. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e31802efb45.


Most primary ovarian mucinous tumors are of surface epithelial-stromal origin and exhibit diffuse expression of cytokeratin 7 (CK7) combined with variable expression of cytokeratin 20 (CK20); this immunoprofile distinguishes them from most lower gastrointestinal tract tumors secondarily involving the ovaries. The uncommon ovarian mucinous tumors of germ cell (teratomatous) origin have not been extensively evaluated to determine the utility of these markers and other markers of intestinal differentiation for distinguishing these tumors from metastatic gastrointestinal tract mucinous tumors. Immunohistochemical expression of CK7, CK20, CDX2, and villin was assessed in 44 ovarian mucinous tumors associated with a mature cystic teratoma. All cases lacked evidence of a nonovarian primary mucinous tumor. All mucinous tumors were unilateral; 6 cases had bilateral teratomas. All tumors displayed gastrointestinal-type mucinous differentiation, with epithelium that was commonly goblet cell-rich or hypermucinous; 21 were associated with pseudomyxoma ovarii and 3 of these had pseudomyxoma peritonei. Tumor architecture ranged from purely cystadenomatous (n=24), to proliferative (n=13), to carcinomatous (n=6); some tumors had admixtures of these patterns. One tumor had a goblet cell carcinoidlike pattern with pseudomyxoma ovarii. Three carcinomas had a signet ring cell component. Cystadenomatous tumors without pseudomyxoma ovarii (n=15) exhibited all possible CK7/CK20 coordinate expression profiles with nearly equal frequency. All proliferative tumors without pseudomyxoma ovarii (n=8) expressed CK7, most often in combination with CK20 expression. All cystadenomatous and proliferative tumors with pseudomyxoma ovarii (n=9 and n=5) were CK7-/CK20+. All carcinomatous tumors had pseudomyxoma ovarii; 3 were CK7-/CK20+, 2 were CK7+/CK20+, and 1 was CK7+/CK20-. The presence of pseudomyxoma ovarii was significantly associated with a CK7-/CK20+ profile (86% with pseudomyxoma ovarii vs. 13% without, P<0.0001), CDX2 positivity (79% vs. 0%, P<0.0001), and villin positivity (57% vs. 5%, P=0.0009). A subset of mucinous tumors associated with mature cystic teratomas exhibiting morphologic and immunohistochemical features of lower intestinal tract-type mucinous tumors may be teratomatous in origin. In practice, the more common diagnosis of secondary involvement by a lower intestinal tract mucinous tumor should be addressed in the pathology report and in subsequent clinical evaluation; interpretation as a true primary ovarian mucinous tumor of teratomatous origin can be considered as an alternative diagnosis when evaluation and follow-up fail to identify a nonovarian source of the mucinous tumor. Those tumors having CK7 expression with or without CK20 expression may be derived from upper gastrointestinal tract-type or sinonasal-type teratomatous elements but could be independent tumors of surface epithelial-stromal origin.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / secondary*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CDX2 Transcription Factor
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratin-20 / metabolism
  • Keratin-7 / metabolism
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / metabolism
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Teratoma / metabolism
  • Teratoma / pathology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CDX2 Transcription Factor
  • CDX2 protein, human
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Keratin-20
  • Keratin-7
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • villin