Mammaglobin-a immunohistochemistry in primary central nervous system neoplasms and intracranial metastatic breast carcinoma

Patrick J. Cimino, Richard J. Perrin

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5 Scopus citations


Metastases represent the most common type of intracranial neoplasm. In women, 30% of such tumors derive from breast carcinoma. In neurosurgical cases with ambiguous cellular morphology and/or limited biopsy material, immunohistochemistry (IHC) is often performed to distinguish metastases from primary central nervous system (CNS) neoplasms. IHC for mammaglobin-A (MGA), a protein expressed in a majority of breast carcinomas, is commonly applied in this setting, but its utility for distinguishing primary CNS neoplasms from metastatic breast carcinoma is unknown; the reactivity of MGA in primary and metastatic CNS neoplasms has never been described. Here, we describe the frequency and patterns of IHC reactivity for MGA in metastatic and primary CNS neoplasms from patients with well-documented histories of breast carcinoma. Following a published protocol previously applied to non-CNS neoplasms, MGA staining of moderate to strong intensity within 5% or more of a neoplasm was considered positive. On the basis of these criteria, 3 of 12 (25.0%) glioblastomas, 1 of 10 (10.0%) meningiomas, and 47 of 95 (49.5%) metastases were positive. Importantly, the cytoarchitectural staining characteristics among all 4 MGA-positive primary CNS neoplasms (cytoplasmic and nuclear) differed from those of the metastases (cytoplasmic and membranous). These findings suggest that MGA IHC staining intensity and distribution can distinguish metastases from primary CNS neoplasms (P=0.0086) in women with a history of breast carcinoma but also indicate that cytologic staining patterns must be interpreted for more accurate tumor classification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-448
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Brain tumor
  • Breast carcinoma
  • Central nervous system
  • Metastasis


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