Paraffin wax embedded, formalin fixed sections of 22 adenocarcinomas of the exocrine pancreas were stained with four mouse monoclonal antibodies: DD9-E7, an antibody raised against a human pancreatic tumour xenograft; carcino-embryonic antigen (CEA); epithelial membrane antigen (EMA); and cytokeratin (CAM 5.2). An indirect immunoperoxidase technique without enzyme pre-digestion and an affinity-purified sheep anti-mouse peroxidase conjugate were used. All of the tumours were positive for DD9-E7, EMA, and CAM 5.2. Twenty out of 22 were focally positive for CEA and the staining was often weak. As all of these adenocarcinomas were DD9-E7 positive, absence of staining for DD9-E7 in a tumour makes the diagnosis of adenocarcinoma of the exocrine pancreas very unlikely, and this is of value in distinction from endocrine carcinomas with a marked acinar pattern. The weak CEA staining distinguished pancreatic carcinomas from colorectal tumours. Because the distribution of staining for EMA and CAM 5.2 was no different from that previously seen in adenocarcinomas from other sites, these markers are likely to be of limited value in the differential diagnosis of abdominal adenocarcinomas of uncertain origin.
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