Discrimination of well-differentiated pulmonary adenocarcinoma from reactive bronchioloalveolar epithelium can be difficult on routine histology, especially with small biopsies. Ancillary studies to help in this distinction are desirable. p63, a p53-homologous nuclear protein, is a marker of reserve cells of the bronchus and terminal lobular unit. In this study, 33 cases of adenocarcinoma (20 open lung and 13 transbronchial/percutaneous biopsies) and 43 cases of benign lungs with fibrosis and metaplasia (22 open lung and 21 transbronchial/percutaneous biopsies) were studied for nuclear p63 expression by immunohistochemistry (Dako, Carpinteria, CA, USA). Five additional cases each of atypical adenomatous hyperplasia and adenosquamous carcinoma and three cases of squamous carcinoma (all open lung biopsies) were also stained. The diagnostic categories of benign lung conditions were usual interstitial pneumonia, parenchymal scar, cryptogenic organizing pneumonia and diffuse alveolar damage. In neoplastic cases, p63 positivity was calculated as percentage of all tumor cells examined. In areas of normal lung, p63 decorated the reserve cells of large and small airways and occasional cells of the distal lobular unit. In fibrotic reactive processes, an interrupted but distinct pattern of nuclear staining was present in all cases, with staining of basal cells of the airways as well as bronchiolar- and squamous-metaplastic epithelium (43/43, 100%). p63 immunoreactivity was less uniform in areas of acute lung injury within these cases. One adenocarcinoma and two cases of atypical adenomatous hyperplasia showed strong immunoreactivity (>80%), while three adenocarcinomas highlighted only rare tumor nuclei (<5% of tumor cells). Morphologic areas where p63 immunostaining was not helpful included the junction of normal lung and lepidic growth of adenocarcinoma, and retrograde spread of adenocarcinoma into small airways. Our results highlight the differential expression of p63 across various bronchioloalveolar lesions. Moreover, p63 may be helpful in distinguishing reactive from neoplastic glandular proliferations in the lung.
Sheikh, H. A., Fuhrer, K. Cieply, K. Yousem, S. (2004). p63 expression in assessment of bronchioloalveolar proliferations of the lung. Poster Presented at; The College of American Pathologists' meeting, San Diego, CA.