Aims: Metallothioneins (MTs) are a group of ubiquitous low molecular weight proteins with a high affinity for heavy metal ions. The aim of the present study was to investigate MT expression in a series of endometrial carcinomas. We wished to determine whether MT expression in endometrial carcinoma was related to established prognostic factors such as tumour grade, stage and histological type. We also wanted to establish if high MT expression in curettings of endometrial carcinoma was predictive of high expression in the subsequent hysterectomy specimen. Methods and results: Sixty-three cases of endometrial carcinoma were included in the study. These comprised 57 endometrioid adenocarcinomas (15 grade 1, 25 grade 2, 17 grade 3), three papillary serous adenocarcinomas, two mucinous adenocarcinomas and one clear cell adenocarcinoma. Forty-five tumours were stage I, 10 were stage II and eight were stage III. In 28 cases, diagnostic endometrial curettings, performed prior to hysterectomy, were available for study. Immunohistochemical staining was performed using the anti-MT monoclonal antibody E9. The intensity and distribution of MT staining were assessed using a semiquantitative method. This resulted in an intensity distribution (ID) score out of a maximum of 300. The mean ID score of grade 1 and 2 endometrioid adenocarcinomas was 67 and 63, respectively, while for grade 3 tumours the mean ID score was 114. This was statistically significant (P = 0.05). The three papillary serous adenocarcinomas had high ID scores with a mean of 208. The mean ID score of stage I tumours was 69. This was lower than those of stage II and III tumours which had mean ID scores of 116 and 128, respectively. However, these differences were not statistically significant (P = 0.288). A significant correlation was observed between MT ID scores in endometrial curettings and in the subsequent hysterectomy (P = 0.013). Conclusions: MT isoforms can be demonstrated in most endometrial adenocarcinomas. High MT ID scores are associated with high grade and high stage endometrial adenocarcinomas and with the aggressive papillary serous adenocarcinoma. Whether this is of value as an independent prognostic factor has yet to be established.
- Endometrial carcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine