, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 387-398

Differential expression of human telomerase catalytic subunit mRNA by In situ hybridization in pheochromocytomas

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In pheochromocytomas, it is very difficult to predict malignant potential by conventional histology or immunohistochemical and molecular markers. We investigated the expression of human telomerase catalytic component (hTERT) mRNA, hTERT protein, Ki-67 antigen, and p27kip1 in pheochromocytomas (27 benign, 7 suspected malignant, and 7 malignant), and evaluated the possibility of expressions of these proteins, and hTERT mRNA serve as diagnostic markers for predicting the biological behavior of these tumors. All tumors showed the classical histology and typical immunohistochemical pattern. By in situ hybridization, hTERT mRNA was expressed in 5/7 malignant tumors (defined as the presence of metastasis and/or extensive local invasion) as compared with 3/27 benign tumors. We examined the hTERT by immunohistochemistry to confirm the mRNA. hTERT mRNA expression was correlated with hTERT protein expression. All benign tumors exhibited no immunopositivity or <1% of cells stained for Ki-67 antigen. Six out of seven malignant tumors have shown either hTERT mRNA expression or Ki-67 immunoreactivity While no statistical difference in p27kip1 expressions was observed among benign, malignant, and suspected malignant tumors, there was a statistical difference between the normal adrenal medulla samples and tumors (p<0.001). Thus, hTERT mRNA detection by in situ hybridization, hTERT expression, and Ki-67 antigen expression are all useful tools for differentiating malignant from benign pheochromocytomas.