Oncocytic modifications in rectal adenocarcinomas after radio and chemotherapy

Andrea Ambrosini-Spaltro, Fabrizio Salvi, Christine M. Betts, Giovanni P. Frezza, Antonio Piemontese, Pietro Del Prete, Cristina Baldoni, Maria P. Foschini, Giuseppe Viale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the study is to highlight oncocytic modifications in rectal adenocarcinomas and evaluate a possible correlation with preoperative radiochemotherapy (RCT). Twenty-eight cases of advanced rectal carcinoma, treated preoperatively by 5-fluorouracil (200-225 mg/m2) and 44-46 Gy in 22-23 fractions, were studied. All patients underwent biopsy before RCT. Surgery was performed within 6 weeks after RCT. In all cases oncocytic modifications were searched for on hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and at immunohistochemistry using an antimitochondrial antibody. In addition, in two cases, both pre- and post-RCT tissues were examined at electron microscopy. All tumors were adenocarcinomas. In pre-RCT biopsies, oncocytic changes were difficult to find on H&E, while the antimitochondrial antibody strongly stained numerous neoplastic cells (mean 48.4%). In post-RCT surgical specimens, oncocytic changes were detected in 24 out of 28 cases on H&E and the antimitochondrial antibody stained most of the residual neoplastic cells (mean 76.7%). Ultrastructural examination revealed large and bizarre mitochondria inside tumor cells both in pre- and post-RCT tissues. In conclusion, the present data suggest that rectal adenocarcinomas are "mitochondrion-rich" tumors. After preoperative RCT, residual neoplastic cells acquire a definite oncocytic phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-448
Number of pages7
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Drug-resistance
  • Mitochondria
  • Oncocyte
  • Rectum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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