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Diagnostic utility of aP2/FABP4 expression in soft tissue tumours

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Adipocyte P2 (aP2), also known as fatty acid-binding protein 4 (FABP4), is a fatty acid-binding protein found in the cytoplasm of cells of adipocyte differentiation. In this study, we examined a large number of soft tissue tumours with a commercial polyclonal anti-aP2/FABP4 antibody and a newly developed mouse monoclonal antibody raised against this protein to determine the diagnostic utility of aP2/FABP4 as a marker of tumours of adipose differentiation. A mouse monoclonal antibody, clone 175d, was raised against a mixture of synthetic peptides corresponding to the amino acid sequence of residues 10–28 and 121–132 of the human aP2/FABP4 protein. Antigen expression with polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies was immunohistochemically determined in paraffin sections of normal adipose tissue and a wide range of benign and malignant primary soft tissue tumours (n = 200). aP2/FABP4 was expressed around the cytoplasmic lipid vacuole in white and brown fat cells in benign lipomas and hibernomas. Immature fat cells and lipoblasts in spindle cell/pleomorphic lipoma, atypical lipomatous tumour/well-differentiated liposarcoma, myxoid/round cell liposarcoma and pleomorphic liposarcoma also reacted strongly for aP2/FABP4. No specific staining was seen in non-adipose benign and malignant mesenchymal and non-mesenchymal tumours. aP2/FABP4 is expressed by mature and immature fat cells and is a marker of tumours of adipose differentiation. Immunophenotypic aP2/FABP4 expression is useful in identifying lipoblasts, and immunohistochemistry with polyclonal/monoclonal anti-aP2/FABP4 antibodies should be useful in distinguishing liposarcoma from other malignancies, particularly round cell, myxoid and pleomorphic soft tissue sarcomas.

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We wish to thank Mrs C Lowe for typing the manuscript. This study was supported by EuroBoNet, a Network of Excellence, and funded by The European Union and the Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Unit.

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We declare that we have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to N. A. Athanasou.

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Kashima, T.G., Turley, H., Dongre, A. et al. Diagnostic utility of aP2/FABP4 expression in soft tissue tumours. Virchows Arch 462, 465–472 (2013).

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