Article Text

Download PDFPDF
MUC1 (EMA) is preferentially expressed by ALK positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma, in the normally glycosylated or only partly hypoglycosylated form
  1. R L Ten Berge1,*,
  2. F G M Snijdewint2,*,
  3. S von Mensdorff-Pouilly2,
  4. R J J Poort-Keesom2,
  5. J J Oudejans1,
  6. J W R Meijer4,
  7. R Willemze3,
  8. J Hilgers5,
  9. C J L M Meijer1
  1. 1Department of Pathology, University Hospital Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital Vrije Universiteit
  3. 3Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Vrije Universiteit
  4. 4Department of Pathology, Rijnstate Hospital, 6815 AD Arnhem, The Netherlands
  5. 5Biotech and Research Division, Sanbe Fama, Bandung, Indonesia
  1. Dr ten Berge rl.tenberge{at}


Aims—To investigate whether MUC1 mucin, a high molecular weight transmembrane glycoprotein, also known as epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), differs in its expression and degree of glycosylation between anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) and classic Hodgkin's disease (HD), and whether MUC1 immunostaining can be used to differentiate between CD30 positive large cell lymphomas.

Methods/Results—Using five different monoclonal antibodies (E29/anti-EMA, DF3, 139H2, VU-4H5, and SM3) that distinguish between various MUC1 glycoforms, high MUC1 expression (50–95% of tumour cells positive) was found in 13 of 17 anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) positive systemic nodal ALCLs, and in one of 20 cases of classic HD. Scattered or focal staining (< 25% of tumour cells) was seen in two additional ALK positive systemic ALCLs, two additional classic HD cases, and in three of 20 cases of ALK negative systemic nodal ALCL. Primary cutaneous ALCL showed no staining with the anti-MUC1 antibodies. Antibodies detecting hypoglycosylated MUC1 were found to be absent in all lymphomas (SM3) or present in only six of 15 ALK positive ALCLs (VU-4H5).

Conclusions—MUC1 is preferentially expressed by a subtype of systemic nodal ALCL, characterised by ALK expression, but is found in only a few cases of classic HD and ALK negative ALCL. Therefore, although MUC1 could be used in a panel of markers for CD30 positive lymphomas, it is probably not a valuable tool to differentiate between ALK negative CD30 positive large cell lymphomas. Finally, the degree of MUC1 glycosylation in lymphomas is relatively high, compared with the aberrant hypoglycosylation found in adenocarcinomas.

  • MUC1 (epithelial membrane antigen) glycoforms
  • anaplastic large cell lymphoma
  • ALK
  • Hodgkin's disease

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • * These authors contributed equally to this study.