Inhibins are peptide hormones that participate in the regulation of the pituitary-gonadal feedback system and are selectively expressed by cells of sex cord-stromal derivation. To determine the efficacy of this marker for distinguishing granulosa cell tumors, 134 primary and metastatic lesions of the ovary were evaluated for expression of the alpha-subunit of inhibin in routinely processed formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue. A variety of sex cord-stromal tumors (SCST), including 35 adult and juvenile granulosa cell tumors, 14 fibroma-thecomas, and 18 other sex cord-stromal proliferations, were studied. In addition, 33 surface epithelial neoplasms, 12 germ cell tumors, 11 metastases, and 11 miscellaneous ovarian neoplastic proliferations were evaluated. Among the non-granulosa cell neoplasms, special emphasis was placed on primary neoplasms and metastases that histologically simulated granulosa cell tumors. Thirty-three of 35 (94%) granulosa cell tumors were immunoreactive compared with 2 of 12 (17%) primary ovarian endometrioid tumors, one of nine (11%) primary ovarian transitional cell (Brenner) proliferations, and 3 of 17 (18%) other primary and metastatic poorly differentiated (undifferentiated) carcinomas. In 31 of the 35 granulosa cell tumors, inhibin staining was of moderate to strong intensity or was present in at least half of the constituent cells, whereas only 2 of 33 primary surface epithelial neoplasms fulfilled the same criteria, showing weak staining of 70% to 80% of the cells. In contrast, 10 of 14 (71%) ovarian fibroma-thecomas and 17 of 18 (94%) other sex cord-stromal proliferations were positive for inhibin. Nonneoplastic luteinized stromal cells stained for inhibin in 29 of 85 cases in which they could be evaluated. The results of this study show that although it is not completely specific and cannot reliably distinguish granulosa cell tumors from fibroma-thecomas or other ovarian sex cord-stromal proliferations, inhibin can be used to help distinguish sex cord-stromal neoplasms from most primary and metastatic non-SCST. Caution should be exercised in the interpretation of inhibin-positive cells, because a wide variety of primary and metastatic ovarian tumors may contain significant numbers of positively staining luteinized cells.
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View details for PubMedID 9416696