, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 525-531
Date: 18 Sep 2011

Kidney-specific cadherin correlates with the ontogenetic origin of renal cell carcinoma subtypes: an indicator of a malignant potential?

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Introduction and objectives

To evaluate retrospectively kidney-specific cadherin (Ksp-cad) expression in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) subtypes and oncocytoma in correlation with its ontogenetic origin of distal and proximal tubules and to correlate Ksp-cad expression with tumour characteristics.

Materials and methods

Membranous and cytoplasmic expression of Ksp-cad was determined in 40 clear cell (ccRCC), 25 papillary (pRCC), 19 chromophobe carcinomas (chRCC), 27 oncocytomas (oncocytomas) (n = 111) and 32 benign kidney parenchyma specimens separated in distal tubules (DT) and proximal tubules (PT) by immunohistochemistry using tissue microarray technique. Staining intensity was quantified as a score ranging from 0 to 12. Comparison of data and correlation with tumour characteristics were done by Wilcoxon/Kruskal–Wallis tests (post hoc Tukey–Kramer analysis).


In benign renal tissue, membranous and cytoplasmic expression of Ksp-cad in the DT was significantly higher than that in the PT (12.0 ± 0 vs. 5.2 ± 0.3 and 6.3 ± 0.5 vs. 0.0 ± 0.0, respectively; (P < 0.05)). Membranous KSP-cad expression was significantly higher in chRCC (5.2 ± 0.8) and oncocytomas (3.7 ± 0.4) than that in ccRCC (0.8 ± 0.2) and pRCC (1.4 ± 0.4; P < 0.05), while expression between oncocytomas and chRCC did not differ significantly. In RCC, Ksp-cad expression was significantly associated with higher T stage and the occurrence of synchronous metastasis (P < 0.05). Higher N stages and grading tended to correlate with a lower Ksp-cad expression.


In this cohort, the origin of tumour subtypes—chRCC and oncocytomas develop from DT and ccRCC and pRCC from PT cells—is mirrored by the respective Ksp-cad expression. This raises the question whether DT-derived tumours have a less malignant potential than PT-derived tumours.