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Benign Myoepithelial Tumors of the Breast Have Immunophenotypic Characteristics Similar to Metaplastic Matrix-Producing and Spindle Cell Carcinomas

Nikolay K. Popnikolov MD, PhD, Alberto G. Ayala MD, Kerry Graves, Zoran Gatalica MD, DSc
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/G6CTR8MDTFUW19XV 161-167 First published online: 1 August 2003


We immunohistochemically compared benign myoepithelial tumors (adenomyoepitheliomas [AMEs]) and metaplastic matrix-producing (MMP-CA) and spindle cell (MSC-CA) carcinomas of the breast to identify helpful diagnostic markers. Normal myoepithelial cells (MECs) consistently expressed cytokeratin, α-smooth muscle actin (SMA), myosin, S-100, CD10, and maspin. They were variably positive for vimentin and negative for epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), steroid receptors, p53, and HER-2/neu. MECs in AMEs less frequently expressed CD10 (4/8 [50%]) and myosin (6/8 [75%]) but frequently acquired characteristics of luminal cells, such as expression of EMA (5/8 [63%]) and steroid receptors (5/8 [63%]). No abnormal p53 or HER-2/neu expression was seen in AMEs. MMP-CA and MSC-CA were similar to AMEs in cytokeratin, vimentin, S-100, maspin, and HER-2/neu expression. MMP-CAs expressed less α-SMA (2/8 [25%]) and myosin (2/7 [29%]) and lacked estrogen receptor (0/9 [0%]). MSC-CAs were consistently CD10+ (4/4 [100%]) yet failed to express myosin (0/3 [0%]). p53 overexpression was seen frequently in MMP-CAs (4/8 [50%]) and MSC-CAs (1/3 [33%]).

Benign myoepithelial mammary tumors differ immunophenotypically from normal MECs; a panel of immunohistochemical markers may be required to establish their myoepithelial origin. A similarly altered myoepithelial phenotype also is characteristic of metaplastic mammary carcinomas. The abnormal expression of oncogenes or antioncogenes, such as p53, may be more useful for distinguishing between those entities than the expression of the classic myoepithelial markers.

Key Words:
  • Breast
  • Myoepithelial cells
  • Adenomyoepithelioma
  • Metaplastic carcinoma