Gastric adenocarcinoma with chief cell differentiation: a proposal for reclassification as oxyntic gland polyp/adenoma

Am J Surg Pathol. 2012 Jul;36(7):1030-5. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e31825033e7.


Gastric adenocarcinoma with chief cell differentiation (GA-CCD) has been reported as a new, rare variant of gastric adenocarcinoma. Only 12 cases in Japanese patients have been described to date, but they demonstrate distinct clinicopathologic features. To further characterize these lesions, we have collected 10 additional cases. Patients ranged in age from 44 to 79 years (mean, 64.2 y) with a relatively equal sex distribution (6 women and 4 men). Stratified by race, 4 patients were Hispanic, 2 were White, 2 were African American, 1 was Asian (Chinese), and the race was unknown for 1 patient. All patients presented with gastroesophageal reflux that prompted an endoscopic examination. The majority of GA-CCDs were identified in the fundus (7 of 10, 70%) and the remaining in the cardia (n=3). Grossly, they were solitary and polypoid, ranging in size from 0.2 to 0.8 cm (mean, 0.4 cm). Histologically, all cases were centered in the deep mucosa, with focal involvement of surface foveolar epithelium in 3 (30%) cases but not the submucosa. The tumors consisted of clustered glands and irregular branching cords of oxyntic epithelium. Thin wisps of radiating smooth muscle separated the epithelium, but desmoplasia was distinctly absent in all cases. The oxyntic mucosa was 1 to 2 cells thick and composed of a mixture of mucous neck, parietal, and chief cells. In 7 of 10 (70%) cases, chief cells were the predominant cell type, whereas the remaining 3 cases consisted primarily of mucous neck cells. The nuclei were mildly enlarged with slight nuclear pleomorphism, but no mitotic figures were identified. In addition, necrosis, lymphovascular invasion, and perineural invasion were absent. Immunohistochemically, GA-CCDs were diffusely positive for MUC6 (10 of 10, 100%) and negative for MUC5AC (0%) and MUC2 (0%). Ki-67 immunolabeling demonstrated variable expression, with the highest areas ranging from 0.2% to 10%. Clinical follow-up was available for 9 of 10 (90%) patients and ranged from 6 to 39 months. One patient had persistence of lesion at 6 months because of incomplete removal, whereas the other 8 were disease free. In summary, GA-CCDs are solitary, mucosal lesions of the gastric cardia/fundus that arise in patients from multiple ethnic backgrounds. Considering that patients within this study and those reported previously have had neither true recurrence nor progression of disease, these lesions are best regarded as benign. Consequently, the term GA-CCD is contradictory and we prefer the descriptive term "oxyntic gland polyp/adenoma" until further studies can clarify the pathogenesis of these lesions and their natural history.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / chemistry
  • Adenocarcinoma / classification*
  • Adenocarcinoma / ethnology
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenoma / chemistry
  • Adenoma / classification*
  • Adenoma / ethnology
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Baltimore
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Cardia / chemistry
  • Cardia / pathology*
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Chief Cells, Gastric / chemistry
  • Chief Cells, Gastric / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gastric Fundus / chemistry
  • Gastric Fundus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nebraska
  • Parietal Cells, Gastric / chemistry
  • Parietal Cells, Gastric / pathology*
  • Polyps / chemistry
  • Polyps / classification*
  • Polyps / ethnology
  • Polyps / pathology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Stomach Neoplasms / classification*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology
  • Terminology as Topic*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor