Ultrastructurally "invasive" microvilli in an aggressively metastasizing biphasic malignant mesothelioma

Youli Zu, Gurdip S. Sidhu, Rosemary Wieczorek, Nicholas D. Cassai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The presence of long, slender, often branching microvilli on cell surfaces is a characteristic feature of malignant and benign mesothelial cells. However, these typical microvilli are seen only in better-differentiated lumens within epithelial areas of malignant mesotheliomas. Presented here are the clinical and ultrastructural findings in a biphasic malignant mesothelioma that lacked lumens, but possessed very long microvilli. These invaginated deeply into the cytoplasm of neighboring tumor cells, as well as into the surrounding stromal matrix. The tumor cells had well-formed intercellular desmosomal junctions. The primary tumor was localized to the pleura and invaded the chest wall, but only minimally the lung. Lobectomy demonstrated the presence of metastatic tumor in 2 peribronchial lymph nodes. The disease progressed rapidly and, within 6 months, killed the patient. An autopsy revealed widespread metastases in multiple systemic organs. The authors speculate that the unique ultrastructural features of this case may be a clue to the unusually aggressive course of the neoplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-409
Number of pages7
JournalUltrastructural Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Biphasic
  • Electron microscopy
  • Invasive microvilli
  • Localized malignant mesothelioma
  • Metastasis
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Instrumentation
  • Structural Biology


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