, Volume 417, Issue 5, pp 405-417

Comparative histogenesis and morphogenesis of mucoepidermoid carcinoma and pleomorphic adenoma

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Summary

Current classifications of salivary gland tumors separate mucoepidermoid carcinoma from other neoplasms on the basis of a number of histological features, in particular the lack of participation of neoplastic myoepithelial cells. However, ultrastructural examination of low- and intermediate-grade mucoepidermoid carcinomas and pleomorphic adenomas reveals many common organizational and cellular features. Of prime importance is the relationship of intermediate cells to the luminal cells in mucoepidermoid carcinomas, which is remarkably similar to that seen between modified myoepithelial cells and luminal cells in pleomorphic adenomas. The results suggest that intermediate cells of mucoepidermoid carcinoma are the counterpart of the modified myoepithelial cells of pleomorphic adenoma. The generally accepted hypothesis that the former tumor develops from an excretory duct reserve cell, while the latter originates from an intercalated duct stem cell does not seem to be valid; pleomorphic adenoma and mucoepidermoid carcinoma appear to be closely related morphologically.