CDX2, cytokeratins 7 and 20 immunoreactivity in rectal adenocarcinoma

Reda S. Saad, Jan F. Silverman, Mahmoud A. Khalifa, Corwyn Rowsell

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48 Scopus citations


There are limited data regarding CDX2 expression in rectal carcinoma. The CK20/CK7 immunoprofile of colorectal adenocarcinoma has been described in studies, which have mostly lumped colonic and rectal tumors together. In this study, we investigated the diagnostic utility of immunohistochemical stains for CK7, CK20, and CDX2 in a series of rectal adenocarcinoma. Fifty-five specimens of rectal adenocarcinomas were retrieved and immunostained for CK7 (Dako-M7018), CK20 (NovoCastra NCL-L-CK20), and CDX2 (NovoCastra NCL-CDX2). Thirty cases of pancreatic adenocarcinoma and 15 cholangiocarcinomas were also studied as a comparison group. CK7 was expressed in 12/55 (22%) and CK20 in 48/55 (87%) cases of rectal adenocarcinoma. The CK7-/CK20+ immunophenotype was identified in 36/55 (65%), CK7+/CK20+ in 12/55 (22%), and CK7-/CK20- in 7/55 (13%) rectal adenocarcinoma. CDX2 showed moderate-strong positivity in all cases and was not related to tumor differentiation. Benign rectal mucosa was available in 37 cases and showed the following results: CK7-/CK20+ in 25/37 (67%), CK7+/CK20+ in 8/37 (22%) and CK7-/CK20- in 4/37 (11%) cases. In pancreatic adenocarcinomas and cholangiocarcinomas, 29/45 (64%) were CK7+/CK20+ and 16/45 (36%) were CK7+/CK20-. CDX2 was positive in only 3/45 (7%) of these cases; all were pancreatic adenocarcinomas. In conclusion, CK7 can be expressed in rectal adenocarcinoma, and should not be used as the sole basis for excluding a rectal primary. CDX2 is a sensitive marker for rectal origin of adenocarcinoma. It can be helpful in cases with metastatic rectal carcinoma, especially those with CK7+/CK20+ or CK20-/CK7- immunophenotype. In this study, CDX2 expression was not influenced by the grade (differentiation) of rectal adenocarcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-201
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2009


  • CDX2
  • CK20
  • CK7
  • Rectal adenocarcinoma


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