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Smooth muscle cell differentiation in mammary stromo-epithelial lesions with evidence of a dual origin: stromal myofibroblasts and myoepithelial cells


Address for correspondence: Dr Stefania Damiani, Dipartimento di Scienze Oncologiche, Sezione di Anatomia Patologica, Università di Bologna, Ospedale Bellaria, Via Altura 3, 40139 Bologna, Italy. e-mail:


Aims:  We investigated the origin of myoid cells in benign stromo-epithelial lesions of the breast in order to ascertain their myoepithelial or myofibroblastic origin.

Methods and results:  We selected 22 stromo-epithelial lesions of the breast and reviewed their morphological features at haematoxylin–eosin (H&E) level. The lesions were classified as fibrous stromo-epithelial lesions (without evidence of myoid differentiation at H&E level) (13 cases), type 1 myoid stromo-epithelial lesions (myoid cells directly merging with the myoepithelial layer) (three cases), type 2 myoid stromo-epithelial lesions (bundles of myoid cells unrelated to the glands) (six cases). All cases were studied immunohistochemically and myoid stromo-epithelial lesions were also studied with electron microscopy. The myoid component in two out of three cases of type 1 myoid lesions showed immunohistochemically co-expression of smooth muscle and myoepithelial markers. In contrast, the remainder showed immunohistochemical results identical to those found in type 2 myoid lesions (positivity with SMA, desmin, calponin, CD34 and bcl2 and negativity with cytokeratin 14 and p63). Ultrastructural study confirmed the presence of cells with myoepithelial features in type 1 myoid lesions and of cells with myofibroblastic features in type 2 myoid lesions.

Conclusions:  Myoid cell differentiation is common in stromo-epithelial lesions of the breast, and is evident in H&E sections in up to 40% of cases. In addition, the origin of myoid cells is myofibroblastic in most cases, but in some cases, cells present immunohistochemical and ultrastructural evidence of myoepithelial origin.