Keratin 5 in Lung Cancer Specimens: Comparison of Four Antibody Clones and KRT5 mRNA-ISH

Christian Thomsen*, Laura Blok-Husum, Jeanette Bæhr Georgsen, Torben Steiniche, Mogens Vyberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Recent improvements in the medical treatment of non-small cell lung carcinoma have made the histopathological distinction between adenocarcinomas (ACs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) increasingly important. One immunohistochemical marker of squamous differentiation is Keratin 5 (K5). Several K5 antibody clones are commercially available, and data from external quality assessment (NordiQC) have shown large variations in their performance. However, comparing antibody performance characteristics of optimized K5 immunohistochemical assays in lung cancer specimens is needed. Tissue microarrays comprising 31 SCCs, 59 ACs, 17 large cell carcinomas, 8 large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas, 5 carcinosarcomas, and 10 small cell carcinomas were included. Serial sections from the tissue microarrays were stained using optimized assays based on the K5 mouse monoclonal antibodies D5/16 B4 and XM26, and the K5 rabbit monoclonal antibodies SP27 and EP1601Y, respectively. The staining reactions were assessed using H-score (0-300). In addition, p40 immunohistochemistry and KRT5 mRNA-ISH analyses were conducted. Clone SP27 showed significantly higher analytical sensitivity than the other 3 clones. However, a distinct positive reaction was observed in 25% of the ACs using clone SP27 but not with the other clones. Clone D5/16 B4 displayed granular staining in 14 ACs, probably representing Mouse Ascites Golgi-reaction. A weak, scattered expression of KRT5 mRNA was seen in 71% of the ACs. In conclusion, the K5 antibody clones D5/16 B4, EP1601Y, and XM26 showed equal sensitivity in lung cancer specimens, but D5/16 B4 also showed nonspecific Mouse Ascites Golgi-reaction. Clone SP27 demonstrated superior analytical sensitivity but lower clinical specificity in the differential diagnosis of SCC versus AC.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Pages (from-to)347-353
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • immunohistochemistry
  • Keratin 5
  • lung cancer
  • mRNA in situ hybridization


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