Heterogeneity of intermediate filament expression in human testicular seminomas

Mina Fogel*, Beatriz Lifschitz-Mercer, Roland Moll, Ilana Kushnir, Nurith Jacob, Rudiger Waldherr, Alexander Livoff, Werner W. Franke, Bernard Czernobilsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Testicular seminoma has in the past been considered to represent a germ cell tumor incapable of further differentiation. In recent years this view has been challenged on the basis of morphologic and chromosomal studies. Moreover, studies of intermediate filaments (IF) of seminoma cells have provided evidence of the capability of seminoma cells to differentiate in different directions. In the present study of the IF protein profile of 26 human testicular seminomas, using frozen as well as formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues, we report evidence of a heterogeneous differentiation potential inherent in these neoplasms. Thus, in 4 of the seminomas neither cytokeratins nor vimentin were detected; 3 showed vimentin positive cells but no cytokeratins; in 4 seminomas only cytokeratins were detected. In the remaining 15 cases both cytokeratins and vimentin were present, with occasional cells demonstrating coexpression of cytokeratin and vimentin. While the cytokeratins present were mostly of the “simple epithelial type”, in 2 instances seminoma cells also contained cytokeratins 4 and 17, normally found in stratified and/or complex glandular epithelia. Furthermore, in 3 cases scattered tumor cells stained for desmin and in 2 other seminomas neurofilaments were identified. All of the cases showed variable positive staining for desmoplakins and desmoglein, indicative of the presence of desmosomes. It can therefore be concluded that, while some seminomas seem to be devoid of IFs, most of them show varied differentiation patterns usually with epithelial features but occasionally also with components commonly regarded as characteristic of myogenic or neurogenic differentiation. These observations may help to elucidate the relationship of seminomas to other germ cell tumors, and also contribute to our understanding of the histogenesis of these neoplasms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-249
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
German Cancer Research Center
Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel


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