Immunohistochemical expression analysis of Cx43, Cx26, c-KIT and PlAP in contralateral testis biopsies of patients with non-seminomatous testicular germ cell tumor

Histochem Cell Biol. 2011 Jan;135(1):73-81. doi: 10.1007/s00418-010-0769-8. Epub 2010 Dec 16.


Non seminomatous testicular germ cell tumors (NSTGCTs) express fetal stem cell markers and display dysregulation of connexin 43 expression. Persistence of fetal spermatogonial characteristics was implicated in the emergence of testicular germ cell tumors. The objective of this study was to analyze the tubular architecture in contralateral testes of patients with NSTGCT. We studied morphologic alterations, expression patterns of markers for the integrity of the germinal epithelium (gap junction proteins connexin 43 and 26), as well as of the embryonic markers c-KIT and placental alkaline phosphatase (PlAP), both established markers to detect carcinoma in situ (CIS). In all samples, tubules showing maturation of germ cells up to spermatozoa were observed. In addition, tubules with alterations in tubular architecture and with impaired spermatogenesis occurred. In tubules showing aberrant spermatogenesis, connexin 43 (Cx43) signal was down-regulated and a shift of signal from gap junctions to the cytoplasm occurred. Concomitantly, Cx26 was found highly up-regulated in tubules with incomplete and aberrant germ cell maturation. All testes exhibited single spermatogonia with positive reaction for c-KIT and a significant positive correlation was found between the mean number of c-KIT positive spermatogonia per tubule and the percentage of tubules presenting severely impaired spermatogenesis. Our data show alterations of the normal architecture of the germinal epithelium and disturbances of spermatogenesis in the contralateral testes of patients with NSTGCT in all cases evaluated. The concomitant occurrence of c-KIT positive spermatogonia and defects in tubular architecture is in line with the hypothesis that patients with NSTGCT suffer from disturbed germ cell development.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Connexin 26
  • Connexin 43 / metabolism*
  • Connexins / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / physiopathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / pathology
  • Testicular Neoplasms / physiopathology*


  • ASPN protein, human
  • Connexin 43
  • Connexins
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • GJB2 protein, human
  • Connexin 26
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit

Supplementary concepts

  • Nonseminomatous germ cell tumor