The potential role of immunohistochemistry in making the distinction between primary cerebellar haemangioblastoma and metastatic renal carcinoma was investigated by examining the reaction pattern of 10 cerebellar haemangioblastomas (seven women, three men, aged 20-40 years) and 10 primary renal carcinomas (six men, four women, aged 49-82 years) to a panel of epithelial, glial, and neural/neuroendocrine antisera. The tumour cell membranes of the renal carcinomas stained strongly with epithelial membrane antigen (EMA); membrane staining was totally absent in the haemangioblastomas. Strong neurone specific enolase (NSE) and S100 staining were also seen in haemangioblastomas but were more variable than EMA staining in renal carcinomas. It is concluded that a panel of antisera is required to distinguish between histologically similar areas in primary haemangioblastomas and metastatic renal carcinomas, and that while complementing conventional histological techniques, new problems of interpretation result which must be taken into account.
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