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Expression of CD56 isoforms in primary and relapsed adult granulosa cell tumors of the ovary

Hans-Ullrich Völker1*, Sabine Engert2, Andreas Cramer3, Melanie Schmidt2, Ulrike Kämmerer2, Hans-Konrad Müller-Hermelink1 and Stefan Gattenlöhner1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Würzburg, Institute of Pathology, Würzburg, Germany

2 University of Würzburg, Dept. of Gynaecology, Würzburg, Germany

3 Missionsärztliche Klinik, Dept. of Gynaecology, Würzburg, Germany

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Diagnostic Pathology 2008, 3:29  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-3-29

Published: 9 July 2008



Adult granulosa cell tumors of the ovary (GCTs) are sex cord stromal tumors of unpredictable behaviour. Up to now, the prediction of the relapsing/malignant potential remains difficult. CD56 (NCAM) in GCTs was previously described in only two studies. However, the expression of its isoforms was not examined.


30 GCTs (16 primaries, 14 relapses) were investigated immunohistochemically with antibodies against Pan-CD56 (CD56Pan) and the isoform with 140/180 kDa length (CD56140/180 kDa). The reaction was assessed with respect to percentage of positive cells and intensity of staining.


In all GCTs, CD56Pan was expressed, but differences were found between primaries and relapses. The percentage of CD56Pan positive tumor cells was lower in relapses, whereas CD56140/180 kDa showed a higher staining intensity in the latter.


Expression of CD56 is an additional sensitive and helpful immunohistochemical tool for histopathologists diagnosing a GCT. It does not seem possible to provide a validly individual risk assessement. However, the different expression of CD56 isoforms might indicate important changes in the course to a more malignant behaviour.