PAX8 expression in uterine adenocarcinomas and mesonephric proliferations

Anna Yemelyanova, Allen M. Gown, Lee Shu Fune Wu, Brittany J. Holmes, Brigitte M. Ronnett, Russell Vang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PAX8 is a useful immunohistochemical marker for the diagnosis of gynecologic tract malignancies. Several studies have described PAX8 expression in a wide variety of epithelial neoplasms, including ovarian and endometrial carcinomas. The goal of this study was to evaluate PAX8 expression in various types of uterine adenocarcinomas and mesonephric proliferations. Ninety-four cases of uterine adenocarcinomas (52 endometrial endometrioid carcinomas, 21 endometrial serous carcinomas, and 21 human papillomavirus-related endocervical carcinomas), 11 cases of benign mesonephric proliferations (remnants/ hyperplasia), and normal endometrial and endocervical glandular epithelium in 58 cases were studied. Immunohistochemical staining was performed with the rabbit polyclonal anti-PAX8 antibody. All adenocarcinoma groups demonstrated a high frequency of PAX8 expression but with relatively high variability in the extent of staining among different subtypes. Both serous carcinomas and endometrioid carcinomas were positive in most cases (95% and 96%, respectively), but serous carcinomas displayed a significantly higher level of expression (immunohistochemical composite scores based on combined extent and intensity of expression) compared with endometrioid carcinomas (mean immunohistochemical composite scores: 8.3 vs. 5.3, respectively; P<0.006). Endocervical adenocarcinomas also had a high frequency of PAX8 expression (86% of cases), but the level of expression was significantly less than that of endometrial adenocarcinomas (mean immunohistochemical composite scores: 2.9 vs. 5.3-8.3, respectively; P<0.004). Among benign glandular epithelia, normal endocervical glands exhibited a significantly lower level of expression compared with either normal endometrial glands or benign mesonephric proliferations (mean immunohistochemical composite scores: 2.6 vs. 6.6-11.2, respectively; P<0.0006). We conclude that PAX8 is expressed in the vast majority of uterine adenocarcinomas, including those of both endometrial and endocervical origin, and that the level of expression based on combined extent and intensity is highest in endometrial serous carcinoma and lowest in endocervical adenocarcinoma. However, the high prevalence of PAX8 expression in the various types of uterine adenocarcinomas precludes use of this marker for distinguishing these tumors. In extrauterine sites, PAX8 can serve as a useful marker for adenocarcinomas of uterine origin (also positive in the majority of ovarian carcinomas), being most sensitive for identification of endometrial adenocarcinomas (both serous and endometrioid). The sensitivity for identifying metastatic endocervical adenocarcinomas is likely less and dependent on the degree to which the significantly lower extent of expression in these tumors is maintained in metastatic sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-499
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecological Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mesonephric proliferations
  • PAX8
  • Uterus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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