Utility of tissue-specific transcription factors thyroid transcription factor 1 and Cdx2 in determining the primary site of metastatic adenocarcinomas to the brain

Leah B. Strickland-Marmol, Andras Khoor, Sandra K. Livingston, Amyn Mohammed Rojiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Context. - Brain metastases of adenocarcinoma of unknown primary pose a diagnostic dilemma to the surgical pathologist. Although the most common source in these cases is the lung, determining a primary source is difficult on routinely stained slides. Immunohistochemical stain panels including differential cytokeratins, hormone receptors, and breast-specific proteins are commonly used in these cases. Recently, attention has turned to tissue-specific transcription factors, such as thyroid transcription factor 1 (TTF-1) and Cdx2, in the appraisal of metastatic adenocarcinomas. Objective. - To characterize the previously unpublished immunohistochemical expression of the relatively new tissue-specific transcription factor Cdx2 in metastatic adenocarcinomas to the brain. Design. - We reviewed the surgical pathology files of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, Fla, and retrieved 38 consecutive cases of metastatic adenocarcinoma (22 pulmonary, 10 breast, 6 gastrointestinal [2 esophagus/gastroesophageal junction, 4 colorectal]) to the brain with confirmation of the primary site by chart review and histologic evaluation. Sections were immunohistochemically stained with antibodies to TTF-1, Cdx2, and cytokeratins 7 and 20 by standard methods. Results. - Specificities and positive predictive values for Cdx2 and TTF-1 equaled 100% for metastatic gastrointestinal and pulmonary adenocarcinomas, respectively. The negative predictive value of Cdx2 was also very high at 97%. Conclusions. - Cdx2 is a specific and valuable tool for the surgical pathologist when faced with the common problem of metastatic adenocarcinoma of unknown primary. In conjunction with TTF-1, cytokeratin 7, and cytokeratin 20, Cdx2 can accurately differentiate the most common sources of metastatic adenocarcinoma to the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1686-1690
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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