Utility of MUC4 in the diagnosis of secretory carcinoma of salivary glands

Saira Fatima, Arsalan Ahmed, Sehar Suleman, Nasir Ud Din

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Salivary gland tumors are diverse in morphology and both benign and malignant tumors may pose diagnostic challenges especially in small biopsies. Secretory carcinoma (SC) is histologically characterized by microcysts, follicles, solid growth pattern and occasional papillary structures, and absence of zymogen granules. SC is molecularly defined by the presence of novel gene fusion ETV6::NTRK3. Among the positive stains (S100 and mammaglobin), MUC4 is now another promising marker for the diagnosis of SC, that would enable the pathologists to exclude other morphologically close simulators. Aim of this study was to report clinicopathological features and assess utility of MUC4 in the diagnosis of SC. MUC4 was performed on 22 cases of SC. Glass slides were reviewed to record morphological patterns and staining of S100, mammaglobin, DOG1 and MUC4. Age ranged from 9 to 63 years with mean age of 34.41 ± 16.28 years. The male: female ratio was 72.7 %:27.3 %. The majority occurred in major salivary glands. A combination of patterns was seen; microfollicles were the most prevalent (90 %) followed by papillary-cystic and macrofollicles. MUC4 was positive in 19/21 (90 %) cases with almost equal number of 2+ and 3+ staining. MUC4 was negative in all cases of acinic cell carcinoma, polymorphous adenocarcinoma, adenoid cystic carcinoma, salivary duct carcinoma, myopepithelioma and myoeithelial carcinoma, cystadenoma and cribriform adenocarcinoma and all except 3 cases of mucoepidermoid carcinoma tested. Overall sensitivity of MUC4 was 95.4 %, specificity 90 %, p-value being <0.01, positive predictive value 87.5 % and negative predictive value 96.4 %. A characteristic cytoplasmic granular pattern was observed in 76.1 % tumors. S100 and mammaglobin were positive in all the performed cases. DOG1 was positive in 6/11 (28.5 %) tumors. In conclusion, MUC4 is a useful addition to a diagnostic immunohistochemical panel for SC, and to distinguish it from close potential mimickers such as acinic cell carcinoma, especially in practice settings where molecular testing is unavailable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152220
JournalAnnals of Diagnostic Pathology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • MUC4 expression
  • Salivary gland neoplasm
  • Secretory carcinoma


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