Sixty-seven childhood tumors were studied immunohistochemically for the extracellular matrix element type IV collagen, laminin, and fibronectin. Tumors included Ewing's sarcoma, primitive neuroectodermal tumor, small cell osteosarcoma, neuroblastoma or ganglioneuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and lymphoma. It was found that small cell osteosarcoma was often positive for fibronectin but not type IV collagen or laminin, a new observation. In the lymphomas, matrix proteins were rarely found. Ewing's sarcoma was variably positive for type IV collagen and laminin, but fibronectin was absent. Extracellular laminin and fibronectin were found in one of two cases of primitive neuroectodermal tumor. In neuroblastoma and ganglioneuroblastoma, the matrix components were rarely found. These results, discrepant with findings in cultured cells, may reflect the altered capacity of tumors to produce these proteins in vitro, which suggests that caution should be exercised in drawing conclusions regarding the nature or histogenesis of tumors from data obtained with cultured tumor cells. Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma frequently contained all matrix elements in the extracellular space and in a dotlike pattern in the cytoplasm; alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma rarely contained these proteins and never exhibited the dotlike pattern. The frequent finding of matrix proteins in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma but only rarely in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and the unique immunostaining pattern in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma may prove to be a useful adjunct in the diagnosis of childhood tumors.
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