Immunohistochemical study of childhood rhabdomyosarcomas and related neoplasms. Results of an intergroup rhabdomyosarcoma study project

David M. Parham, Hallie Holt, W. Kent Williams, Bruce Webber, Harold Maurer

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133 Scopus citations


The authors assessed a panel of immunohistochemical stains against 109 pediatric solid tumors, primarily rhabdomyosarcomas, under the auspices of the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study. Fresh tumor tissue received from participating organizations was divided into portions that were either frozen or fixed in formalin, alcohol, or B5. Immunostaining was performed by the avidin‐biotin complex method using monoclonal antibodies to desmin, neurofilaments, vimentin, cytokeratin, and leukocyte common antigen on cryostat sections. Tissue was also embedded in paraffin and stained with antimuscle‐specific actin (MSA) and polyclonal antibodies to desmin, creatine kinase M subunit (CKM), myoglobin, and neuron‐specific enolase (NSE). Antidesmin staining of cryostat sections was the most sensitive indicator of rhabdomyosarcoma (58 of 62 specimens positive). Results with this reagent in alcohol‐fixed and formalin‐fixed tissue were similar (46 of 56 positive versus 43 of 56 positive, respectively) and comparable with results with anti‐MSA in formalin‐fixed tissue (43 of 55 positive). However, the proportion of cells stained by antidesmin was higher in alcohol‐fixed tissue than in formalin‐fixed tissue. Staining with antimyoglobin and anti‐CKM was much less satisfactory, with positivity rates of 17 of 37 and 11 of 57, respectively, in formalin‐fixed rhabdomyosarcomas. Immunostaining of muscle markers revealed evidence of myogenesis in six undifferentiated sarcomas and in two sarcomas with inadequate histologic study on hematoxylin—eosin‐stained sections. However, positivity was also noticed in samples of fibromatosis, Wilms' tumor, ectomesenchyoma, peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumor, renal rhabdoid tumor, myositis ossificans, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, and embryonal sarcoma of the liver. The authors conclude that combined use of antidesmin and anti‐MSA enhances the diagnosis of childhood sarcomas, especially when employed with other techniques such as electron microscopic study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3072-3080
Number of pages9
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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