Malignant mixed mullerian tumor of the uterus. Features favoring its origin from a common cell clone and an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation mechanism of histogenesis

Marcello Guarino, Ferdinando Giordano, Francesco Pallotti, Giulio Polizzotti, Paolo Tricomi, Enrico Cristofori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and background: Various histogenetic mechanisms have been postulated to explain the biphasic carcinomatous-sarcomatous appearance of malignant mixed mullerian tumors (MMMTs), but the nature of these uncommon neoplasms is still unclear. Some evidence would suggest that MMMT displays similarities with sarcomatoid carcinoma, a tumor arising in extragenital sites that also features a mixed appearance. To gain further insight into the histogenesis of this tumor, we have studied by immunohistochemistry a case of uterine MMMT showing an extensive rhabdomyosarcomatous component. Methods: A panel of antibodies including reactivity for p53, cytokeratin, vimentin, desmin, muscle actin, epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), myoglobin, type IV collagen, laminin, and tenascin was applied to paraffin tumor sections by means of the avidin-biotin complex technique. Results: p53 immunoreactivity was observed in approximately the same number of cells in carcinomatous and sarcomatous tissue. The former stained for vimentin, cytokeratin and EMA, while the latter, in addition to expressing vimentin, desmin, muscle actin and myoglobin, also exhibited immunoreactivity for epithelial markers such as cytokeratin and EMA. At the borders between carcinoma and sarcoma the basement membrane pattern, as seen by staining for type IV collagen and laminin, showed interruptions in correspondence with areas of transition between the two tissues. Antibody to tenascin strongly labeled the sarcomatous tissue immediately around carcinomatous elements. Conclusions: A similar immunoreactivity for p53 in both carcinomatous and sarcomatous components, expression of epithelial markers in the sarcomatous cells, and disruption of the basement membrane profile in areas of transition between carcinomatous and sarcomatous tissue, would all suggest, as has been postulated for extragenital sarcomatoid carcinomas, an origin from a common epithelial clone and an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation-based mechanism of development for this MMMT. In addition, these findings provide further analogies between these categories of tumors, supporting a unifying nosological concept for MMMTs and sarcomatoid carcinomas of non-genital tract origin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-397
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1998


  • Basement membranes
  • Malignant mixed mullerian tumor
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Tenascin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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