Clear cells of Toker in accessory nipples


James E. Fitzpatrick MD, Department of Dermatology, Campus Box F703, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80262, USA
Tel: (720) 848-0585
Fax: (720) 848-0535


Background:  Clear cells of Toker are intraepithelial cells with clear to pale staining cytoplasm and bland cytologic features found in approximately 10% of normal nipples. Toker cells have been hypothesized as a precursor of extramammary Paget's disease (EMPD), although the distribution of Toker cells outside of the nipples has not been studied. Using immunohistochemistry, we studied 20 cases of accessory nipples for the presence of Toker cells.

Methods:  A retrospective study of 20 cases of accessory nipples was performed using routine hemotoxylin and eosin staining, as well as immunohistochemical staining for CK7, CK20, EMA, and GCDFP-15.

Results:  Thirteen out of 20 accessory nipples (65%) demonstrated Toker cells with CK7 staining. Toker cells in six of the 13 cases were also positive for EMA. Only one case with Toker cells showed immunoreactivity for antibodies to GCDFP-15.

Conclusions:  Toker cells occur outside the normal nipple epidermis in the epidermis of accessory nipples. The distribution of Toker cells along the milk line correlates with the distribution of most cases of EMPD along the milk line, especially in the groin and axillae. Further studies are necessary to define the relationship between Toker cells and EMPD.