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N-cadherin expression in malignant germ cell tumours of the testis

Felix Bremmer1*, Bernhard Hemmerlein1, Arne Strauss2, Peter Burfeind3, Paul Thelen2, Heinz-Joachim Radzun1 and Carl Ludwig Behnes1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, University Medical Centre Göttingen, Robert-Koch-Str. 40, 37075, Göttingen, Germany

2 Department of Urology, University Medical Centre Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

3 Department of Human Genetics, University Medical Centre Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

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BMC Clinical Pathology 2012, 12:19  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-12-19

Published: 15 October 2012



Testicular germ cell tumours (TGCTs) are the most common malignancy in young men aged 18–35 years. They are clinically and histologically subdivided into seminomas and non-seminomas. Cadherins are calcium-dependent transmembrane proteins of the group of adhesion proteins. They play a role in the stabilization of cell-cell contacts, the embryonic morphogenesis, in the maintenance of cell polarity and signal transduction. N-cadherin (CDH2), the neuronal cadherin, stimulates cell-cell contacts during migration and invasion of cells and is able to suppress tumour cell growth.


Tumour tissues were acquired from 113 male patients and investigated by immunohistochemistry, as were the three TGCT cell lines NCCIT, NTERA-2 and Tcam2. A monoclonal antibody against N-cadherin was used.


Tumour-free testis and intratubular germ cell neoplasias (unclassified) (IGCNU) strongly expressed N-cadherin within the cytoplasm. In all seminomas investigated, N-cadherin expression displayed a membrane-bound location. In addition, the teratomas and yolk sac tumours investigated also differentially expressed N-cadherin. In contrast, no N-cadherin could be detected in any of the embryonal carcinomas and chorionic carcinomas examined. This expression pattern was also seen in the investigated mixed tumours consisting of seminomas, teratomas, and embryonal carcinoma.


N-cadherin expression can be used to differentiate embryonal carcinomas and chorionic carcinomas from other histological subtypes of TGCT.

N-cadherin; Seminoma; Embryonal carcinoma; Immunohistochemistry; TGCT cell lines