The utility of PAX-2 and renal cell carcinoma marker immunohistochemistry in distinguishing papillary renal cell carcinoma from nonrenal cell neoplasms with papillary features

Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol. 2010 Dec;18(6):494-8. doi: 10.1097/PAI.0b013e3181e78ff8.


PAX-2, a homeogene expressed during kidney development, has been studied as a marker of renal origin in both primary and metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC), but not in papillary neoplasms or in comparison with RCC marker (RCCma). We studied immunohistochemical expression of PAX-2 and RCCma in 24 papillary RCC (PRCC) and 66 nonrenal cell papillary neoplasms (NRCPN) from a variety of organs. Of the PRCC, 16/24 (67%) were positive for PAX-2; 23/24 (96%) were positive for RCCma. Of the NRCPN, 9/66 (14%) is positive for PAX-2 [4/10 (40%) ovarian papillary serous carcinomas, 5/9 (56%) uterine papillary serous carcinomas]; RCCma was positive in 28/66 (42%), including 9/9 (100%) papillary thyroid carcinomas, 8/10 (80%) ovarian papillary serous carcinomas, 4/9 (44%) uterine papillary serous carcinomas, 1/10 (10%) papillary urothelial carcinomas, 1/2 (50%) intraductal papillary mucinous carcinomas of the pancreas, 3/3 (100%) choroid plexus papillomas, 1/1 (100%) pituitary adenoma with papillary features, and 1/2 (50%) lung adenocarcinomas with papillary features. The sensitivity of PAX-2+/RCCma+ immunophenotype for PRCC was 58% with a specificity of 54%. There is significant overlap between the expressions of these markers in PRCC and NRCPN; however, the positivity of RCCma and/or PAX-2 is 100% sensitive for PRCC and may prove useful in the initial work up of metastases of unknown primary. PAX-2 and RCCma immunohistochemistry should be interpreted with caution in papillary neoplasms, with particular attention to the possibility of ovarian and uterine papillary serous carcinomas, which can express both PAX-2 and RCCma.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry*
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • PAX2 Transcription Factor* / analysis
  • PAX2 Transcription Factor* / chemistry
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products / analysis*
  • Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products / chemistry
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • PAX2 Transcription Factor
  • Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products