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Keywords:

  • Renal cell carcinoma;
  • chromophobe subtype;
  • intermediate filaments;
  • electron microscopy;
  • cytoplasmic microvesicles;
  • prognosis

Abstract

This paper reports on 32 chromophobe cell renal carcinomas observed in 697 renal cell cancers (RCC) of adults (peak in the sixth decade of life). The chromophobe cell-type differs from other types of RCC macroscopically, the cut-surface being predominantly of grey-beige colour. Histologically, there are two variants: one is the typical (light) variant (n=22) and the other is eosinophilic (n=10). Both variants have in common (a) reaction of the cytoplasm with Hale's acid iron colloid; (b) electron microscopic detection of cytoplasmic microvesicles (150–300 nm), frequently with ‘inner vesicles’, and (c) low glycogen content in comparison with the clear cell carcinoma. Immunocytochemical investigations on the intermediate filaments show a positive reaction for cytokeratins No. 18 (uniformly) and Nos. 7 and 19 (to varying extents) for both variants, whereas vimentin was not found in any of these carcinomas, in contrast to the clear-cell type. The cytomorphological grading revealed predominantly G II tumours. A lymph node metastasis was found in one patient.

On the basis of the mortality curves determined, the prognosis for patients with chromophobe cell carcinomas is more favourable than that of the clear-cell type.

In terms of differential diagnosis, on the one hand, the typical (light) variant of the chromophobe cell RCC must be delimited from the clear-cell RCC, and on the other hand, the eosinophilic variant must be distinguished from the chromophilic or ‘granular’ RCC. Microscopic, histological, histochemical, electron microscopic, and intermediate filament analysis results document that the chromophobe cell type of RCC is a distinct entity. The implications for the nomenclature of RCC, especially with regard to the ‘granular’ type, are discussed.