The immunophenotype of ependymomas

Kanaka Durga Swaroop Vege, Caterina Giannini, Bernd Walter Scheithauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The morphologic distinction of ependymomas with epithelial cytology from metastatic carcinoma may pose a significant problem in differential diagnosis. The known presence of keratin in glioma cells further complicates the issue. Using the labeled streptavidin-biotin method with automated staining, we studied epithelial and glial marker expression in 52 ependymomas of varying type and grade, including 20 epithelial-appearing, 14 glial- appearing, eight mixed pattern, and 10 myxopapillary tumors; 38 were low grade and 14 anaplastic. All tumors were immunoreactive for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and S-100 protein. Diffuse staining for GFAP was noted in glial-appearing ependymomas featuring perivascular pseudorosettes. Diffuse immunostaining for S-100 protein was seen in cellular lesions exhibiting epithelial-like features. Staining was more diffuse for GFAP than S-100 protein in anaplastic ependymomas. Keratin (AE1/AE3) reactivity was seen in 98% of cases, the pattern being similar to that of GFAP. The frequency of staining for other keratins varied: wide-spectrum keratin (35%), cytokeratin (CK)7 (20%), CAM 5.2 (19%), CK903 (14%), and CK20 (8%); as a rule, it was scant and limited to occasional cells and processes, epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) staining was seen in 36% of all cases and in 67% of epithelial- appearing tumors wherein it often highlighted microlumina. Aside from AE1/AE3 staining and very infrequent wide-spectrum keratin and EMA reactivity, expression of epithelial markers was not seen in anaplastic ependymomas. No carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) positivity was noted in any case. Collagen IV reactivity was limited to tumor cell-stroma interfaces. Although variable, S- 100 protein and GFAP staining is seen in all ependymomas, particularly in true and perivascular pseudorosettes. Widespread reactivity for keratin AE1/AE3 corresponds closely to the pattern of GFAP staining. Significant staining for other keratins or for CEA is inconsistent with a diagnosis of ependymoma. EMA reactivity is largely limited to luminal staining of rosettes and tubules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-31
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 27 2000


  • Differentiation
  • Ependymoma
  • Glioma
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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