Wnt suppressor and stem cell regulator TCF7L1 is a sensitive immunohistochemical marker to differentiate testicular seminoma from non-seminomatous germ cell tumor

Exp Mol Pathol. 2019 Oct:110:104293. doi: 10.1016/j.yexmp.2019.104293. Epub 2019 Aug 2.


The accurate classification and proper identification of testicular germ cell tumors is imperative for treatment selection and clinical prognosis. Although such distinction can often be achieved by microscopic morphology alone, ancillary tests may at times be needed. T-cell factor 7 L1 (TCF7L1, also known as TCF3), a component of the Wnt signaling pathway, plays important roles in embryonic stem cell self-renewal and lineage specification. Here we examined the immunohistochemical expression and diagnostic utility of TCF7L1 in testicular germ cell tumors. Fifty cases of testicular germ cell tumors were collected, including 23 seminomas, 6 embryonal carcinomas, 1 teratoma, 1 choriocarcinoma, and 19 mixed germ cell tumors. The components of the mixed germ cell tumors were seminoma (n = 3), embryonal carcinoma (n = 18), yolk sac tumor (n = 9), teratoma (n = 15), and choriocarcinoma (n = 4). On immunohistochemistry of TCF7L1, only nuclear staining was considered positive. Staining was graded as negative (<5% of tumor cells stained), minimal (5-25% positive), focal (26-50%), and diffuse (>50%). All non-seminomatous components (n = 54) exhibited distinct nuclear expression of TCF7L1 (54/54; 100%). In contrast, no TCF7L1 expression was detected in the majority of seminomatous tumor component (24/26; 92%). Two seminomas (2/26; 8%) exhibited minimal weak nuclear staining (5% and 10%, respectively) for TCF7L1. In conclusion, TCF7L1, highly expressed in non-seminomatous testicular germ cell tumors, might be used as a marker for diagnosis of testicular germ cell tumors, two therapeutically different entities, for better patient management.

Keywords: Choriocarcinoma; Embryonal carcinoma; Germ cell tumor; Mixed germ cell tumor; Non-seminomatous; Seminoma; TCF7L1; Teratoma; Testis; Wnt; Yolk sac tumor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / metabolism
  • Patient Selection
  • Seminoma / diagnosis*
  • Seminoma / metabolism
  • Testicular Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Transcription Factor 7-Like 1 Protein / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • TCF7L1 protein, human
  • Transcription Factor 7-Like 1 Protein

Supplementary concepts

  • Nonseminomatous germ cell tumor
  • Testicular Germ Cell Tumor