Female urethral adenocarcinoma: Immunohistochemical evidence of more than 1 tissue of origin

David P. Murphy, Allan J. Pantuck, Peter S. Amenta, Kiron M. Das, Kenneth B. Cummings, Gary L. Keeney, Robert E. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose: Urethral adenocarcinoma is a rare malignancy whose origin remains controversial. The monoclonal antibody mAbDas1 (formerly 7E12H12) was developed against a unique colonic epithelial epitope and is reactive in areas of intestinal metaplasia. Recently the antibody was shown to react in cystitis glandularis as well as adenocarcinoma of the bladder, suggesting that cystitis glandularis may be the precursor of bladder adenocarcinoma. We examined urethral adenocarcinomas and benign urethral specimens using mAbDas1 to determine whether it could provide insight into their histogenesis. Materials and Methods: Archival tissue from 12 cases of primary female urethral adenocarcinoma and urethral specimens of inflamed urethral mucosa, urethritis glandularis and transitional cell carcinoma was studied. Immunohistochemical analysis of formalin fixed, paraffin embedded archival tissue was done using the monoclonal antibody mAbDas1. Tumors were also evaluated with a prostate specific antigen (PSA) polyclonal antibody as previous studies have noted PSA reactivity in these tumors. Results: Of the 12 cases 9 were columnar/mucinous adenocarcinoma, 2 clear cell adenocarcinoma and 1 a cribriform pattern resembling adenocarcinoma of the prostate. All columnar/mucinous adenocarcinomas reacted positively (6 strongly and 3 focally) with the mAbDas1 antibody but did not react with the PSA antibody. The tumor with a cribriform pattern reacted strongly with PSA but did not react with mAbDas1. The 2 clear cell adenocarcinomas did not react with either antibody. The benign urethral specimens demonstrated strong reactivity to the mAbDas1 antibody in areas of urethritis glandularis but normal and inflamed urethral mucosa and transitional cell carcinoma did not react. Conclusions: Primary adenocarcinoma of the female urethra arises from more than i tissue of origin. Columnar/mucinous adenocarcinomas of the female urethra and urethritis glandularis demonstrate consistent reactivity with the mAbDas1 antibody, suggesting that these tumors arise from glandular metaplasia analogous to the potential histogenesis previously demonstrated in the bladder. PSA reactivity occurred in 1 tumor with a cribriform pattern and likely represents origin from Skene's glands. Clear cell adenocarcinomas did not react with either antibody, suggesting a third possible pathway in the development of this rare subset of adenocarcinomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1881-1884
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Antibodies, monoclonal
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Urethra
  • Urethritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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