A new insight into the histogenesis of ‘mesodermomas’—malignant mesotheliomas


Address for correspondence: Professor A.Donna, Department of Pathology, City Hospital, USSL 70. 15100 Alessandria, Italy.


A myogenic phenotype was induced in cultures of human mesothelial cells treated for 72 h with atrazine, a triazine derivative. Immunoreactivity for both myosin and myoglobin was detected in a large number of these cells, irrespective of their polygonal or spindle morphology, whereas no expression of desmin was observed. These findings support the embryological identity of mesothelium and mesoderm, the former being, in the post-embryonic stage, potentially capable of differentiation along the same lineages which the latter normally displays during embryogenesis. In the light of this concept it can be assumed that primary malignancies arising from the mesothelium have the competence to express the pluripotent nature of embryonic mesoderm, and hence the term mesodermoma is appropriate for this group of tumours, including mesotheliomas in a classical sense. A postulated mechanism for the phenotypic change of mesothelial cells is also outlined, involving atrazine conversion to 5-aza-chloro-cytidine, a probable DNA hypomethylating and gene activating agent, like its analogue 5-azacytidine.