Type AB thymoma is not a mixed tumor of type a and type B thymomas, but a distinct type of thymoma

Yukari Miki, Kana Hamada, Tadashi Yoshino, Katsuya Miyatani, Kiyoshi Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Type AB thymoma is generally regarded to be a mixture of type A and type B thymomas, but has not been studied extensively. In this study, we precisely investigated the characteristics of type AB thymoma immunohistochemically and compared it with other types of thymoma, including type A, metaplastic, and type B1 thymoma. In type A thymoma, the tumor cells were composed solely of pan-cytokeratin (CK-AE1/AE3)+ claudin-1+ vimentin - epithelial membrane antigen (EMA)- short spindle cells. Metaplastic thymoma exhibited biphasic architecture of epithelial islands of short spindle cells, which were phenotypically almost identical to the tumor cells in type A thymoma, and anastomosing bundles of CK-AE1/AE3- claudin-1- vimentin+ EMA+ fibroblast-like long spindle-shaped epithelial cells. Interestingly, we found that there were two distinctive subtypes of cell in type AB thymoma: the conventional subtype and the metaplastic subtype. The conventional subtype is characterized by type A-like components resembling type A thymoma. The metaplastic subtype is characterized by type A-like components extensively resembling the anastomosing bundles of fibroblast-like long spindle epithelial cells. Interestingly, the metaplastic subtype was a major subtype (14/19 cases), while the conventional subtype was a minor one (5/19 cases). In contrast to the rarity of metaplastic thymoma, the metaplastic subtype of type AB thymoma appears to be a major subtype of type AB thymoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-734
Number of pages10
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Metaplastic thymoma
  • Type A thymoma
  • Type AB thymoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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