Adenocarcinoma of the urachus and bladder expresses a unique colonic epithelial epitope: an immunohistochemical study

J Urol. 1997 Nov;158(5):1722-7. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5347(01)64109-0.


Purpose: Primary adenocarcinoma of the bladder is a rare neoplasm whose histogenesis is poorly understood. Current data support the concept that adenocarcinoma of the bladder and urachus evolves from zones of intestinal metaplasia that become dysplastic and invasive. To address this hypothesis further we determined the immunoreactivity of benign and malignant epithelial tissue from the bladder and urachus with a monoclonal antibody that is reactive with colonic epithelium to evaluate the presence of a common reactive epitope.

Materials and methods: The monoclonal antibody 7E12H12 (IgM isotype), developed against a colonic epithelial protein, was used in an immunoperoxidase assay to survey formalin fixed, paraffin embedded archival tissue specimens. A total of 26 specimens obtained by endoscopic biopsy or extirpative surgery, including benign and malignant bladder and urachal epithelial abnormalities, was chosen for retrospective evaluation.

Results: All adenocarcinoma reacted positively regardless of the histological variant, differentiation, or bladder or urachal origin. In contrast, transitional cell and squamous cell carcinomas were nonreactive. Also, the pattern of reactivity in tissues that contained benign epithelial proliferations suggested a stepwise transition with no reactivity in normal urothelium or Brunn's epithelial nests, rare staining of cystitis cystica, and uniformly positive reactivity in cystitis glandularis and frank colonic intestinal metaplasia of the bladder and urachus.

Conclusions: The shared, aberrant phenotypic expression of a unique colonic epitope in benign epithelial metaplasia, and adenocarcinoma of the bladder and urachus suggests a common underlying pathway toward adenocarcinoma in cystic and urachal adenocarcinoma. The implications for diagnostic pathology are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Epitopes / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Urachus / immunology*
  • Urachus / pathology
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Epitopes