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Pulmonary Pathology Online

Role of Immunohistochemistry in the diagnosis of Lung Tumours in Cytological Specimens

Dr Sampurna Roy MD                       




It is not possible to apply immunostains in sputum, washings, and lavage samples, but cell blocks made from washings or lavages and liquid-based cytology samples can be used for this purpose.

FNA samples also yield excellent preparations for immunocytochemistry. 

Immunostaining can be useful in cytological samples.

Interpretation of the findings should always take account of the clinical details and the morphology of the cells in routine preparations. 

Some applications of Immunostaining in Lung Tumors:

Small cell carcinoma:  Cytokeratin: dot positivity, weak staining Neural cell adhesion molecular markers 

Carcinoid tumors ; Neuroendocrine Carcinoma: Chromogranin ; Synaptophysin ; Other short chain polypeptide hormones CD56.


Metastatic carcinoma

Prostate -

Prostate specific antigen

Prostatic acid phosphatase

Melanoma -

S100 protein

HMB 45


Gastrointestinal tract

Cytokeratin 20 (and a few lung tumours)

Female genital tract (and some lung tumours)-

Cytokeratin 7



Further reading:

Comparison of cell fixation methods of induced sputum specimens: an immunocytochemical analysis.

Prospective trial evaluating immunocytochemical-based sputum techniques for early lung cancer detection: assays for promotion factors in the bronchial lavage.

Cell specific markers for eosinophils and neutrophils in sputum and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of patients with respiratory conditions and healthy subjects.

Identification of intracellular markers in induced sputum and bronchoalveolar lavage samples in patients with respiratory disorders and healthy persons.



Dr Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant  Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)








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