Myoepithelioma: definitions and diagnostic criteria

Ultrastruct Pathol. 1995 Sep-Oct;19(5):335-45. doi: 10.3109/01913129509021906.


Due to their infrequency and multiplicity of histopathology, myoepitheliomas present difficulties in diagnosis and classification. Cellular varieties can be misdiagnosed as malignancies. Improvements in and clarification of diagnostic criteria are, therefore, required. A key to determining diagnostic criteria for myoepitheliomas is to study cellular morphology, cytoplasmic filament expression, and ultrastructural features of the nonluminal, i.e., neoplastic myoepithelial/basal, tumor cells of pleomorphic adenomas, and apply this information to defining myoepitheliomas. Cytologic and growth patterns of nonluminal cells in pleomorphic adenomas, including plasma-cytoid cells, are reflected in myoepitheliomas. Results also indicate that muscle-specific actin and myofilaments are expressed only in a proportion of cases, and generally in not more than 60-70% of nonluminal cells in pleomorphic adenoma; this also applies to benign and malignant myoepitheliomas. The absence of these markers does not exclude a diagnosis of myoepithelioma. Vimentin and glial acidic fibrillary protein, however, are strongly and diffusely expressed in the majority of pleomorphic adenomas and myoepitheliomas and are more reliable markers for these tumors than muscle-specific actin. Like so many other salivary gland tumors, myoepitheliomas present an equally complex histomorphology and variable expression of antigenic markers, only some of which are associated with myoepithelial and basal cells of the acini and ducts of the normal salivary gland.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / analysis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscles / chemistry
  • Myoepithelioma / chemistry
  • Myoepithelioma / diagnosis*
  • Myoepithelioma / pathology
  • Myoepithelioma / ultrastructure
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Salivary Glands / ultrastructure


  • Actins