Utility of GATA3 immunohistochemistry in differentiating urothelial carcinoma from prostate adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas of the uterine cervix, anus, and lung

Alex Chang, Ali Amin, Edward Gabrielson, Peter Illei, Richard B. Roden, Rajni Sharma, Jonathan I. Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Distinguishing invasive high-grade urothelial carcinoma (UC) from other carcinomas occurring in the genitourinary tract may be difficult. The differential diagnosis includes high-grade prostatic adenocarcinoma, spread from an anal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), or spread from a uterine cervical SCC. In terms of metastatic UC, the most common problem is differentiating spread of UC to the lung from a primary pulmonary SCC. Immunohistochemical analysis (IHC) for GATA binding protein 3 (GATA3), thrombomodulin (THROMBO), and uroplakin III was performed on a tissue microarray (TMA) containing 35 cases of invasive high-grade UC. GATA3 IHC was also performed on TMAs containing 38 high-grade (Gleason score ≥8) prostatic adenocarcinomas, representative tissue sections from 15 invasive anal SCCs, representative tissue sections from 19 invasive cervical SCCs, and TMAs with 12 invasive cervical carcinomas of the cervix [SCC (n=10), SCC with neuroendocrine features (n=1), and adenosquamous carcinoma (n=1)]. In addition, GATA3 IHC was performed on representative tissue sections from 15 pulmonary UC metastases and a TMA with 25 SCCs of the lung and 5 pulmonary non-small cell carcinomas with squamous features. GATA3, THROMBO, and uroplakin III were positive in 28 (80%), 22 (63%), and 21 (60%) cases of high-grade UC, respectively. All cases of GATA3-positive staining were nonfocal; 25 (89%) cases demonstrated moderate to strong staining, and 3 (11%) demonstrated weak staining. Of the 7 cases that failed to express GATA3, 5 were positive for THROMBO and/or uroplakin III, whereas 2 were negative for all 3 markers. None of the 38 high-grade prostatic adenocarcinomas was positive for GATA3. Weak GATA3 staining was present in occasional basal cells of benign prostate glands, in a few benign atrophic glands, and in urothelial metaplasia. Of the 15 cases of anal SCCs, 2 (7%) cases showed focal weak staining, and 1 (3%) showed focal moderate staining. Weak staining was also rarely observed in the benign anal squamous epithelium. Of the 31 uterine cervical carcinomas, 6 (19%) showed weak GATA3 staining (3 nonfocal and 3 focal), and 2 (6%) demonstrated focal moderate staining. Twelve (80%) of the metastatic UCs to the lung were positive for GATA3, with 11 cases showing diffuse moderate or strong staining and 1 case showing focal moderate staining. None of the pulmonary SCCs or non-small cell carcinomas with squamous features was GATA3 positive. GATA3 IHC is a sensitive marker for UC, and positive staining in UC is typically nonfocal and moderate or strong in intensity. GATA3 is also highly specific in excluding high-grade prostate adenocarcinoma. Although some cervical and anal SCCs can be GATA3 positive, unlike in UC, staining is more commonly focal and weak. GATA3 is also a useful maker when diagnosing metastatic UC to the lung.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1472-1476
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • GATA3
  • cervical carcinoma
  • prostate adenocarcinoma
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • urothelial carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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