Keratin-positive Ewing's sarcoma: An ultrastructural study of 12 cases

Amitabh Srivastava, Andrew E. Rosenberg, Martin Selig, Brian P. Rubin, G. Petur Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Ewing's sarcoma/primitive neuroectodermal tumor (EWS/PNET) is an aggressive neoplasm of bone and soft tissue. Histologically, it is characterized by the presence of small round blue cells, which usually express MIC-2 and FLI-1 immunohistochemically. The most specific feature for diagnosis, however, is cytogenetic or molecular evidence of a consistent abnormality, the t(11;22)(q24;q12), or variants thereof. The immunohistochemical expression of keratins in a significant proportion of these cases has been highlighted in several recent studies. The ultrastructural features of these keratin-positive tumors have not, however, been characterized in detail. In this study we analyzed the ultrastructural features of 12 well-documented EWS/PNETs that stained strongly for pankeratin by immunohistochemistry. Ultrastructurally, the tumor cells contained a few organelles, which included a small number of mitochondria, poorly developed Golgi complexes, free ribosomes, and inconspicuous rough-endoplasmic reticulum. Rudimentary cell junctions were seen in 2 tumors while prominent junctions were observed in the remaining 10. Five tumors contained intracytoplasmic filaments, and definite tonofibrils were identified in 2. Well-developed basal lamina around tumor cells were also demonstrated in 2 tumors. Follow-up information was available for all cases. Seven patients died of disease, 2 are alive with disease, and 3 have no current evidence of disease. The cohort includes 5 patients with a type-1 translocation, which has been associated with a better prognosis in some studies; 4 of these patients have died of their disease, and 1 is alive with recurrent disease. This study shows that keratin-positive EWS/PNETs have evidence of epithelial differentiation ultrastructurally, and may possibly represent a more aggressive subset of the EWS/PNET group of tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Electron microscopy
  • Ewing's sarcoma
  • Keratin
  • Peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumor
  • PNET
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Surgery


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