Renal papillary adenoma-a putative precursor of papillary renal cell carcinoma

Kim L. Wang, David M. Weinrach, Chunyan Luan, Misop Han, Fan Lin, Bin T. Teh, Ximing J. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The precursor lesions of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) are unknown. The purpose of this study is to determine the incidence, histomorphological features, and immunohistochemical features of papillary adenoma and elucidate its potential relationship to RCC. We reviewed 542 consecutive nephrectomy specimens over an 8-year period. Immunohistochemistry was carried out with antibodies specific for α-methyl-coenzyme A racemase (AMACR) and glutathione S-transferase α (clear-cell RCC marker). Thirty-eight (7%) nephrectomy specimens showed histologic evidence of papillary adenoma. Of these 38 cases, 18 (47%) arose in the setting of papillary RCC (PRCC). Seven papillary adenomas (18%) occurred in the setting of acquired polycystic kidney disease (APKD), 6 in clear-cell RCCs, 3 in chromophobe RCCs, 2 in end-stage kidney disease, 1 in oncocytoma, 1 in angiomyolipoma, and 1 in renal schwannoma. Furthermore, papillary adenomas were more commonly found in kidneys removed for PRCC (25%, 18/71) than in kidneys harboring clear-cell RCC (1.9%, 6/318). Histomorphologically, papillary adenomas were characterized by varying proportions of papillae and tubules formed by cuboidal cells with scant basophilic cytoplasm similar to those in type 1 PRCC. Adenomas associated with PRCC tend to be multiple in number (61% [11/18] of cases had >2 adenomas; mean, 5). In contrast, 100% of papillary adenomas arising in other conditions had less than 2 adenomas. Most of the adenomas (82%, 31/38) stained strongly for AMACR in a fashion similar to that of PRCC. The 7 AMACR-negative cases all arose in the setting of APKD. In this study of surgical specimens, the high coincidence, multifocality, and histologic and immunohistochemical similarities between papillary adenoma and PRCC suggest that the 2 are strongly associated and may represent a continuum of 1 biologic process. In contrast, adenomas associated with APKD exhibit distinct morphological and immunohistochemical features and, therefore, may have an entirely different pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-246
Number of pages8
JournalHuman pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Papillary renal cell carcinoma
  • Renal papillary adenoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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