Intratubular germ cell neoplasia of the human testis: heterogeneous protein expression and relation to invasive potential

Rod T Mitchell, Maria E Camacho-Moll, Joni Macdonald, Richard Anderson, Christopher J H Kelnar, Marie O'Donnell, Richard M Sharpe, Lee B Smith, Ken M Grigor, W Hamish B Wallace, Hans Stoop, Katja P Wolffenbuttel, Roland Donat, Philippa Tk Saunders, Leendert Hj Looijenga

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Testicular germ cell cancer develops from premalignant intratubular germ cell neoplasia, unclassified cells that are believed to arise from failure of normal maturation of fetal germ cells from gonocytes (OCT4(+)/MAGEA4(-)) into pre-spermatogonia (OCT4(-)/MAGEA4(+)). Intratubular germ cell neoplasia cell subpopulations based on stage of germ cell differentiation have been described, however the importance of these subpopulations in terms of invasive potential has not been reported. We hypothesized that cells expressing an immature (OCT4(+)/MAGEA4(-)) germ cell profile would exhibit an increased proliferation rate compared with those with a mature profile (OCT4(+)/MAGEA4(+)). Therefore, we performed triple immunofluorescence and stereology to quantify the different intratubular germ cell neoplasia cell subpopulations, based on expression of germ cell (OCT4, PLAP, AP2γ, MAGEA4, VASA) and proliferation (Ki67) markers, in testis sections from patients with preinvasive disease, seminoma, and non-seminoma. We compared these subpopulations with normal human fetal testis and with seminoma cells. Heterogeneity of protein expression was demonstrated in intratubular germ cell neoplasia cells with respect to gonocyte and spermatogonial markers. It included an embryonic/fetal germ cell subpopulation lacking expression of the definitive intratubular germ cell neoplasia marker OCT4, that did not correspond to a physiological (fetal) germ cell subpopulation. OCT4(+)/MAGEA4(-) cells showed a significantly increased rate of proliferation compared with the OCT4(+)/MAGEA4(+) population (12.8 versus 3.4%, P
Original languageEnglish
JournalModern Pathology
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2014


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