Human Hemochromatosis Protein (HFE) Immunoperoxidase Stain Highlights Choriocarcinoma within Mixed Germ Cell Tumors

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Identification of choriocarcinoma within a germ cell tumor can have major implications for the subsequent staging and treatment of testicular neoplasms. Immunoperoxidase staining greatly enhances the speed and sensitivity of identifying occult, though clinically significant, tumor components. In mixed germ cell tumors, staining for beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG) has been historically used to assess for the presence and burden of choriocarcinoma. However, current β-hCG stains produce variable, intense staining of trophoblastic elements and surrounding tissues, clouding the assessment of true-positive staining. Human hemochromatosis protein (HFE) is a membrane bound mediator of iron transport expressed at high levels within placenta. Additionally, previous reports have demonstrated that choriocarcinoma cell lines express HFE, although in vivo expression had not been examined. To address whether HFE can stain trophoblastic elements, HFE immunohistochemistry was conducted in choriocarcinoma (n=4), mixed germ cell tumors (n=11), seminoma (n=4), and placenta (n=11). HFE consistently demonstrated cytoplasmic and membranous staining, highlighting both syncytiotrophoblasts and cytotrophoblasts within choriocarcinoma and placenta. Staining of intratumoral white blood cells was observed within seminomas and mixed germ cell tumors, corroborating prior reports stating that HFE highlights monocytes and macrophages. Taken together, HFE may serve as an alternative target from β-hCG for immunoperoxidase studies when highlighting choriocarcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5236482
JournalDisease Markers
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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