Although P40 and P63 are both sensitive and specific for routine esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) diagnosis, we recently showed that P40 and P63 immunoreactivities were significantly lower in well-differentiated SCC than those in higher grade tumors. Therefore, a novel esophageal SCC marker, ideally performing better in well-differentiated SCC, is still needed. We characterized desmoglein 3 (DSG3) immunohistochemistry in esophageal SCC, esophageal adenocarcinoma, small-cell lung carcinoma, and large B-cell lymphoma, alongside P40 and CK5/6. The World Health Organization classification was used to grade tumors as well-differentiated (WD), moderately differentiated (MD), or poorly differentiated (PD). There were 20 WD, 26 MD, and 17 PD components among 39 esophageal SCC cases. All esophageal SCC components showed significant DSG3 immunoreactivity (mean, 80%; range, 30%-100%), and the proportions of DSG3 immunoreactive cells were higher in the WD and MD components than in the PD components. No esophageal adenocarcinoma cases showed more than 10% DSG3 immunoreactivity with only weak cytoplasmic staining. With a 5% immunoreactivity cutoff, DSG3 positivity was 100% in all 63 SCC components, 18% in adenocarcinoma cases, and 0% in small-cell lung carcinoma or large B-cell lymphoma cases. The overall DSG3 specificity was 94%. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to characterize DSG3 as a sensitive and specific marker for esophageal SCC.
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