Clear cell papulosis of the skin


J.Yu-YunLee E-mail:


Clear cell papulosis is a new entity first described in 1987. To date, six patients have been reported: all were young Taiwanese children. The disease is characterized clinically by multiple small, whitish maculopapules distributed along the milk line and by the presence of large, benign pagetoid cells in the epidermis resembling the clear cell of the nipple. The significance of this entity lies in its potential histogenetic link with Paget's disease of the skin. We report four new Taiwanese patients, three girls and one boy, aged between 21 months and 4 years. Two were sisters. Small hypopigmented macules first appeared on the pubis. They were eventually distributed bilaterally along the milk line but were most numerous in the pubic area. The disease may easily be overlooked when the macules are tiny or few in number and thus display no clear milk-line distribution, or when they occur in white-skinned individuals. Histologically, solitary large clear cells with large, round pale nuclei were detected in the basal layer of the hypomelaninized epidermis. The numbers of clear cells varied on haematoxylin and eosin staining and were only small in two patients. The cytoplasm of the clear cells was decorated by antikeratin AE1 and anticarcinoembryonic antigen antibodies. AE1 was the best marker of the clear cell. Some of the AE1-positive cells were tadpole-like in shape and were situated well above the basal layer. Ultrastructurally, large clumps of disintegrated or vacuolated mucin granules were present in the cytoplasm of the clear cells. The melanocytes appeared normal; the suprabasal keratinocytes were essentially devoid of melanosomes. The pathological findings in the present study support the hypothesis that these clear cells are an aberrant derivative of sweat gland cells in the epidermis and are potentially the precursor cells giving rise to mammary and extramammary Paget's disease. The differential diagnosis includes chicken pox scars, idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis, hypomelanotic tinea versicolor, anetoderma and early, hypopigmented lesions of Paget's disease.