Clear cell adenocarcinoma and nephrogenic adenoma of the urethra and urinary bladder: a histopathologic and immunohistochemical comparison

Hum Pathol. 1998 Dec;29(12):1451-6. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(98)90015-6.


Because of histological similarities between nephrogenic adenomas and clear cell adenocarcinomas of the urinary tract, there is the potential for diagnostic confusion between these two entities. The histopathologic features of 13 nephrogenic adenomas and five clear cell adenocarcinomas of the urethra and urinary bladder are compared in this report, and detailed immunohistochemical staining profiles are provided for these tumors. Only 2 of the 13 nephrogenic adenomas contained clear cells, and these constituted less than 10% of the lesions. In contrast, four of the five clear cell adenocarcinomas contained prominent areas with clear cells. Nephrogenic adenomas generally showed only mild cytologic atypia, whereas four of the five clear cell adenocarcinomas showed severe atypia. A single mitotic figure was identified in only two of the nephrogenic adenomas, whereas the mitotic rate in the clear cell adenocarcinomas ranged from 2 to 14 per 10 high-power fields. None of the nephrogenic adenomas showed evidence of necrosis, but focal necrosis was noted in four of the five clear cell adenocarcinomas. In general, the nephrogenic adenomas and clear cell adenocarcinomas showed negative to weak staining with CK903 but strong staining with AE1, AE3, and Cam 5.2. Variable staining was observed with Brst-3 and antibodies to S-100, CEA (monoclonal and polyclonal), LeuM-1, and CA19.9. Nephrogenic adenomas and clear cell adenocarcinomas were all negative for prostate-specific acid phosphatase (PSAP), prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and estrogen and progesterone receptors (except for two nephrogenic adenomas, which showed only focal weak staining for estrogen receptor). Neither bcl-2 nor c-erbB-2 staining was able to discriminate between the tumors. However, strong staining for p53 was noted in each clear cell adenocarcinoma and in none of the nephrogenic adenomas. MIB-1 positivity in nephrogenic adenomas ranged from 0 to 13 (average of 5.5) per 200 cells, whereas the positive range for clear cell adenocarcinomas was 33 to 70 (average of 47) per 200 cells. In summary, histopathologic features that favor clear cell adenocarcinoma over nephrogenic adenoma include a predominance of clear cells, severe cytological atypia, high mitotic rate, necrosis, high MIB-1 positivity, and strong staining for p53.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / pathology*
  • Adenoma / metabolism
  • Adenoma / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitotic Index
  • Necrosis
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Urethral Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Urethral Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53