Cell differentiation in Wilms' tumor (nephroblastoma): an immunohistochemical study

D Droz, M F Rousseau-Merck, F Jaubert, N Diebold, C Nezelof, E Adafer, H Mouly
Human Pathology 1990, 21 (5): 536-44
Using an indirect immunoperoxidase technique, we tested frozen specimens from 12 Wilms' tumors with monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) reacting against a large panel of molecules including laminin, fibronectin, cytokeratin, vimentin, villin, CD24, CALLA/CD10, CR1, CD26, class I and class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules, and endothelium factor VIII. These molecules were chosen because they are markers of specific segments of the mature kidney and because their loss or acquisition is indicative of different steps of human nephrogenesis. KI67 MoAb was used to evaluate the proliferating activity of the cells. The blastemal component (cell compact areas) of Wilms' tumors consisted of vimentin-positive cells with a fibronectin network. However, signs of epithelial maturation were present in compact areas where cytokeratin-positive cells producing laminin were observed. The cells exhibited a high degree of proliferating activity. The tubule formations consisted of cytokeratin-positive cells and had a defined laminin border. All the cells, whether in compact areas or in tubules, were strongly CD24-positive. Some tubular formations showed signs of proximal maturation with the presence of CALLA, CD26, and even villin. In four cases class I-MHC molecules were expressed by some tubular cells. Large cystic cavities present in five cases were edged by cytokeratin, CD24-positive cells, or by vimentin, CALLA, CR1-positive cells. Some glomeruloid bodies, present in two cases, were also composed of vimentin, CALLA, and CR1-positive cells which correspond to the mature podocyte phenotype. The interstitial tissue contained mainly laminin and fibronectin network with macrophages and few CD3 lymphocytes. The presence of large cells with muscular differentiation was noted; round vimentin and CD26-positive cells were also seen. The endothelial cells of the vessels exhibited vimentin, factor VIII, and class I and class II MHC molecules as do mature cells, but in some cases the endothelial cells lacked class II molecule expression and were CALLA-positive. These results which confirmed and extended those previously described show that cell differentiation in Wilms' tumor mimics that observed during metanephros development. Moreover, this study shows that tumoral cells in nephroblastoma share several antigens with cells from lymphoid lineage (CD24, CALLA, and CD26) as do developing and mature kidney cells. Such cell phenotype dissection provides a useful and reliable tool for testing the influence of various factors on the development of hetero-transplanted or cultured Wilms' tumors.

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