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Pancreatic endocrine tumour with cytoplasmic keratin whorls. Is the term “rhabdoid” appropriate?
  1. R Chetty,
  2. S L Asa
  1. Department of Pathology, University Health Network/Toronto Medical Laboratories, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5G 2M9, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor R Chetty
 University Health Network, Princess Margaret Hospital, 610 University Avenue, Fourth Floor, Suite 302, Room 312, Toronto, ON M5G 2M9, Canada;


A 50 year old woman presented with acute abdominal pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting and was found to have a mass in the head of the pancreas by imaging. The clinical impression was of a pancreatic carcinoma and a Whipple’s procedure was performed. Microscopic examination of the tumour showed it to be a low grade neuroendocrine carcinoma arranged in a tubuloacinar or tubulopapillary pattern, and composed of cells harbouring very prominent intracytoplasmic inclusions. These inclusions varied in appearance from being pale pink and hyaline in quality to more eosinophilic and globular causing displacement of the nucleus. Ultrastructural examination showed typical paranuclear aggregates of intermediate filaments. Inclusions of this type have been described previously as “signet ring like” and “rhabdoid”. It was felt that the inclusions more closely resemble the fibrous bodies that are seen in pituitary adenomas. In addition, it is suggested that both signet ring and rhabdoid are not appropriate because they do not reflect histogenesis and are not necessarily reflective of tumour biology. It is suggested that the term “cytokeratin aggresomes” should be used to describe this distinctive phenotype.

  • H&E, haematoxylin and eosin
  • PET, pancreatic endocrine tumour
  • pancreas
  • endocrine tumour
  • rhabdoid
  • juxtanuclear intermediate filaments
  • keratin filaments
  • fibrous bodies
  • aggresomes

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