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Cystic Tumor of the Atrioventricular Node of the Heart Appears to Be the Heart Equivalent of the Solid Cell Nests (Ultimobranchial Rests) of the Thyroid

José Cameselle-Teijeiro MD, PhD, Ihab Abdulkader MD, PhD, Paula Soares MSc, PhD, Natividad Alfonsín-Barreiro MD, Julio Moldes-Boullosa MD, PhD, Manuel Sobrinho-Simões MD, PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/GWT2PY0T77PBBA1A 369-375 First published online: 1 March 2005


We studied a series of 10 solid cell nests (SCNs) of the thyroid and a case of cystic tumor of the atrioventricular node (CTAVN) of the heart and reviewed the literature. The CTAVN and SCNs appeared as cystic and/or solid (squamoid) structures mainly composed of polygonal or oval cells (main cells) admixed with occasional clear cells (neuroendocrine and C cells). Main cells were immunoreactive for simple and stratified epithelial-type cytokeratins, epithelial membrane antigen, carcinoembryonic antigen, carbohydrate antigen 19.9, p63, bcl-2, and galectin-3. Neuroendocrine (and C) cells were positive for simple-type cytokeratins, carcinoembryonic antigen, calcitonin, chromogranin, synaptophysin, and thyroid transcription factor-1.

Our data support the hypothesis that the CTAVN of the heart and the SCNs of the thyroid are identical structures that represent the same lesional process. The assumption that CTAVN is a ultimobranchial heterotopia fits with the known role of cardiac neural crest cells in cardiovascular development.

Key Words:
  • Cystic tumor of the atrioventricular node
  • Solid cell nests
  • Heart
  • Thyroid
  • Ultimobranchial body
  • Heterotopia