Calponin is expressed in serous cystadenomas of the pancreas but not in adenocarcinomas or endocrine tumors

Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol. 2009 May;17(3):216-9. doi: 10.1097/pai.0b013e31818c1aa6.


The diagnosis of serous microcystic adenoma (SMA) is usually straightforward. For small biopsies and/or unusual variants, the differential diagnosis includes other pancreatic or metastatic neoplasms showing cystic or clear cell features. We evaluated immunostains for potential use in the diagnosis of SMA. Cases of SMA were identified from archival files. Tissue cores (2 per block) were arrayed to create a microarray of cores measuring 2mm each. Additionally, microarrays previously constructed from 56 pancreatic adenocarcinomas (PACs) and 64 pancreatic endocrine tumors (PENs) were studied. The microarrays were stained with calponin, chromogranin, CD10, alpha-inhibin, and monoclonal neuron-specific enolase (m-NSE). Subsequently, some were stained with MUC6, melan-A, D2-40, h-caldesmon, smooth muscle actin, and smooth muscle myosin. For SMAs, staining was seen with calponin (85.2%), alpha-inhibin (96.2%), and m-NSE (96.2%). Focal weak staining was seen with MUC6 (65%). All SMAs were negative with chromogranin, CD10, melan-A, D2-40, h-caldesmon, smooth muscle actin, and smooth muscle myosin. In contrast, calponin was negative in all PACs and PENs. Staining for alpha-inhibin was absent in PACs and present in 4.1% of PENs; whereas immunoreactivity for m-NSE was present in 26.8% of PACs and 73.7% of PENs. Chromogranin staining was present in 9.1% of PACs and 100% of PENs. An immunohistochemical profile of staining with calponin, alpha-inhibin, and m-NSE and absent staining with chromogranin supports the diagnosis of SMA, and distinguishes SMA from PAC and PEN. Calponin and alpha-inhibin are the most useful positive markers for SMA, and are negative in most entities in the differential diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / analysis*
  • Cystadenoma, Serous / diagnosis*
  • Cystadenoma, Serous / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Endocrine Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Endocrine Gland Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inhibins / analysis*
  • Microfilament Proteins / analysis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • calponin
  • inhibin-alpha subunit
  • Inhibins
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase