Objectives Immunohistochemistry (IHC) can be helpful in the diagnosis of minor salivary gland neoplasms including those that have been incisionally biopsied or fragmented during surgery that do not contain key diagnostic features on hematoxylin and eosin sections. IHC has been used as an adjunct to distinguish among many salivary gland neoplasms using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The objective of this study was to determine whether a distinctive immunoreactivity staining pattern to GFAP can be consistently observed among three selected minor salivary gland neoplasms and thus serve as a diagnostic adjunctive procedure. Study Design Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) reactivity was examined among 78 minor salivary gland neoplasms: 27 canalicular adenomas (CAA), 21 pleomorphic adenomas (PA) and 30 polymorphous low grade adenocarcinomas (PLGA). Each case was evaluated by two oral and maxillofacial pathologists (OMP) blinded to the diagnosis. Consensus was reached on the pattern of GFAP reactivity among the neoplastic cells and on the similarities and differences among the cases. Results Ninety-six percent (96%) of CAAs demonstrated a distinctive linear immunoreactive pattern among cells in proximity to connective tissue interface. All (100%) PAs demonstrated diffuse immunopositivity within tumor cells. All (100%) PLGAs showed little or no intralesional reactivity and no peripheral linear immunoreactivity. Additional challenge cases were examined by outside OMPs to demonstrate the utility of these findings. Conclusions This study demonstrates that the pattern of GFAP immunoreactivity may be an adjunct to diagnosis among PA, CAA and PLGA. The pattern of distinctly linear GFAP immunoreactivity at the tumor/connective tissue interface in CAA has not been reported previously. This distinctive feature may permit the pathologist to differentiate among CAA, PA and PLGA when an incisional biopsy and/or fragmentation cause key diagnostic features to be absent. Because each of these neoplasms requires a different treatment approach, this can be of major significance.
Keywords: Salivary gland neoplasms, Glial fibrillary acidic protein, Immunohistochemistry, Canalicular adenoma, Polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinoma, Pleomorphic adenoma