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Current Concepts on Dedifferentiation/High-Grade Transformation in Salivary Gland Tumors

Pathology Research International
Publication Date
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


The concept of dedifferentiation had previously been used in salivary gland carcinomas. Recently, the term “high-grade transformation” was introduced for adenoid cystic carcinoma, acinic cell carcinoma, epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma, and polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinoma and may better reflect this phenomenon, although transformation into moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma (i.e., not “high grade”) has also been described. Among the immunohistochemical markers, Ki-67 seems to be the only one that can help distinguish between the conventional and transformed components; however, the combination of morphological criteria is still sovereign. The overexpression of p53 was observed in the transformed component in all tumor types studied, despite few cases having been demonstrated to carry mutations or deletions in TP53 gene. Genetic studies in salivary gland tumors with dedifferentiation/high-grade transformation are rare and deserve further investigation. This paper aims at providing an overview on the recent concepts in histopathological classification of salivary gland tumors, complemented by immunohistochemical and genetic findings.

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