Wilms' tumour (nephroblastoma) has been associated with chromosomal abnormalities at the 11p13, 11p15 and 16q regions. A study into the possibility of mutations occurring within p53, the ubiquitous adult tumour suppressor gene, in Wilms' tumour was carried out. Thirty-eight cases were studied. Of these 36 were categorised into the favourable histology group and two into the unfavourable histology group based on the National Wilms' Tumour Study criteria. Archival formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections from each case were stained with a polyclonal (AB565:Chemicon) and a monoclonal (DO7:Dako) antibody raised against p53 protein using a peroxidase-labelled streptavidin biotin kit (Dako). 'Cure' (disease-free survival of 60 months or longer) was documented in 39% of cases with favourable histology tumours. Eleven percent in this group succumbed to the disease. Both cases with unfavourable histology died. Four out of 36 (11%) tumours with favourable histology demonstrated weak to moderate staining with both AB565 and DO7 in more than 75% of tumour cells. In contrast, p53 protein expression in unfavourable histology tumours was significantly increased compared with the favourable histology group (P = 0.021) with both cases demonstrating immunopositivity in > 75% of tumour cells when stained with AB565 and DO7. The intensity of staining ranged from moderate to strong in both cases. It appears from this preliminary study that the immunohistochemical expression of p53 protein in Wilms' tumour, presumably a result of mutation in the p53 tumour suppressor gene, correlates with histological classification, histological categorisation being one of the useful features in the prognostic assessment of Wilms' tumours.
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