Diagnostic utility of CD44 standard, CD44v6, and CD44v3-10 expression in adenocarcinomas presenting in serous fluids

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CD44 is an 85 to 90 kd integral transmembrane protein encoded by a single 20-exon gene located on the short arm of chromosome 11. In the standard form (CD44s), 10 of the 20 exons are transcribed. Multiple variant isoforms exist (CD44v1-10) which arise from alternate mRNA splicing of the remaining 10 exons. In contrast to the standard form of CD44, which is almost ubiquitously expressed, splice variants are highly restricted in their expression in normal or malignant tissues. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent to which metastatic adenocarcinomas in effusions express CD44s, CD44v6, and CD44v3-10 and to assess their diagnostic utility in distinguishing reactive mesothelial cells from adenocarcinomas. Archival paraffin-embedded cell blocks of serous fluids from 23 cases of benign effusions containing reactive mesothelial cells and 45 cases of malignant effusions with metastatic adenocarcinoma (18 ovarian, 11 pulmonary, 9 gastrointestinal, and 7 breast) were retrieved from the surgical pathology files. The cytopathology of all cases was reviewed to confirm the diagnosis. Immunohistochemistry was performed on all cases using antibodies for CD44s, CD44v6, and CD44v3-10 (Bender MedSystems, CA). Positive staining was defined as distinct linear membrane staining. Strong staining in at least 10% of the tumor cells was required to consider the case positive for the particular marker. In benign effusions mesothelial cells expressed CD44s in 22 cases (96%), CD44v6 in 1 cases (4%) and CD44v3-10 in 0 cases (0%). In contrast neoplastic cells in malignant effusions expressed CD44s in 11 cases (24%), CD44v6 in 21 cases (47%), and CD44v3-10 in 39 cases (87%). We concluded that CD44s and CD44v3-10 are useful markers that can be applied to cytologic specimens. CD44s immunostaining can be used as a reliable marker to identify reactive mesothelial cells, meanwhile CD44v3-10 immunostaining can detect majority of adenocarcinomas in malignant effusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-450
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Adenocarcinoma
  • CD44
  • Mesothelial cells
  • Serous fluid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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