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Disease Markers
Volume 2016, Article ID 5236482, 6 pages
Research Article

Human Hemochromatosis Protein (HFE) Immunoperoxidase Stain Highlights Choriocarcinoma within Mixed Germ Cell Tumors

Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-3135, USA

Received 5 January 2016; Revised 10 February 2016; Accepted 17 February 2016

Academic Editor: Ralf Lichtinghagen

Copyright © 2016 Jesse L. Cox et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Identification of choriocarcinoma within a germ cell tumor can have major implications for the subsequent staging and treatment of testicular neoplasms. Immunoperoxidase staining greatly enhances the speed and sensitivity of identifying occult, though clinically significant, tumor components. In mixed germ cell tumors, staining for beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG) has been historically used to assess for the presence and burden of choriocarcinoma. However, current β-hCG stains produce variable, intense staining of trophoblastic elements and surrounding tissues, clouding the assessment of true-positive staining. Human hemochromatosis protein (HFE) is a membrane bound mediator of iron transport expressed at high levels within placenta. Additionally, previous reports have demonstrated that choriocarcinoma cell lines express HFE, although in vivo expression had not been examined. To address whether HFE can stain trophoblastic elements, HFE immunohistochemistry was conducted in choriocarcinoma (), mixed germ cell tumors (), seminoma (), and placenta (). HFE consistently demonstrated cytoplasmic and membranous staining, highlighting both syncytiotrophoblasts and cytotrophoblasts within choriocarcinoma and placenta. Staining of intratumoral white blood cells was observed within seminomas and mixed germ cell tumors, corroborating prior reports stating that HFE highlights monocytes and macrophages. Taken together, HFE may serve as an alternative target from β-hCG for immunoperoxidase studies when highlighting choriocarcinoma.