A systematic immunohistochemical study of 3215 cases

Markku Miettinen, Zengfeng Wang, Peter A. Mccue, Maarit Sarlomo-Rikala, Janusz Rys, Wojciech Biernat, Jerzy Lasota, Yi Shan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The SALL4 transcription factor is associated with embryonic cell pluripotency and has been shown as a useful immunohistochemical marker for germ cell tumors. However, information of SALL4 distribution in normal human tissues and non-germ cell tumors is limited. In this study we examined normal human tissues and 3215 tumors for SALL4 expression using a monoclonal antibody 6E3 and automated immunohistochemistry. In a 10-week embryo, SALL4 was expressed in ovocytes, intestine, kidney, and some hepatocytes. In adult tissues, it was only detected in germ cells. SALL4 was consistently expressed in all germ cell tumors except some trophoblastic tumors and mature components of teratomas, in which it was selectively expressed in intestinal-like and some squamous epithelia. In non-germ cell carcinomas, SALL4 was detected in 20% of cases or more of serous carcinoma of the ovary, urothelial high-grade carcinoma, and gastric adenocarcinoma (especially the intestinal type). SALL4 was only rarely (≤5%) expressed in mammary, colorectal, prostatic, and squamous cell carcinomas. Many SALL4-positive carcinomas showed poorly differentiated patterns, and some showed positivity in most tumor cells mimicking the expression in germ cell tumors. SALL4 was commonly expressed in rhabdoid tumors of the kidney and extrarenal sites and in the Wilms tumor. Expression of SALL4 was rare in other mesenchymal and neuroendocrine tumors but was occasionally detected in melanoma, desmoplastic small round cell tumor, epithelioid sarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma. All hematopoietic tumors were negative. SALL4 is an excellent marker of nonteratomatous germ cell tumors, but it is also expressed in other tumors, sometimes extensively. Such expression may reflect stem cell-like differentiation and must be considered when using SALL4 as a marker for germ cell tumors. Observed lack of other pluripotency factors, OCT4 and NANOG, in SALL4-positive non-germ cell tumors can also be diagnostically helpful.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-420
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • OCT4
  • SALL4
  • cholangiocarcinoma
  • gastric adenocarcinoma
  • germ cell tumor
  • immunohistochemistry
  • serous carcinoma
  • small cell carcinoma
  • urothelial carcinoma

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A systematic immunohistochemical study of 3215 cases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this