Carcinomas of Bartholin's gland: Histogenesis and the etiological role of human papillomavirus

J. C. Felix, R. J. Cote, E. E.W. Kramer, P. Saigo, G. H. Goldman

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39 Scopus citations


In this study, we examine 10 primary carcinomas of Bartholin's gland, including seven squamous carcinomas, two adenoid cystic carcinomas, and one adenocarcinoma, as well as four non-neoplastic Bartholin's gland. Six of seven squamous cell carcinomas contained human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 DNA detectable by the polymerase chain reaction; one of these demonstrated HPV type 16 by in situ hybridization. The two adenoid cystic carcinomas, the adenocarcinoma, and the non-neoplastic Bartholin's gland epithelium showed no evidence of HPV DNA by polymerase chain reaction or in situ hybridization. A panel of eight antibodies (Cam 5.2, B72.3, CEA, EMA, MCA, Lewis X, ER, and PR) demonstrate that the squamous, transition zone, duct, acinar, and myoepithelial cells of Bartholin's gland are antigenically distinct, and are similar to those reported in analogous areas of the uterine cervix. Squamous carcinoma and adenocarcinomas of Bartholin's gland are antigenically similar, and seem to arise from the transition zone of the Bartholin's gland duct. The origin of adenoid cystic carcinomas is more difficult to determine; it is distinct from squamous and adenocarcinomas and seems more likely to arise from myoepithelial cells. We conclude that adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of Bartholin's gland arise in the transition zone of Bartholin's gland, which is similar to the transition zone of the uterine cervix. We also show that HPV is associated with Bartholin's gland carcinoma and may play a role in the genesis of malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-933
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1993


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