Get access

Basaloid tumors in nevus sebaceus revisited: the follicular stem cell marker PHLDA1 (TDAG51) indicates that most are basal cell carcinomas and not trichoblastomas


Klaus Sellheyer, MD,

Nelson Dermatopathology Associates, 5755 Dupree Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30327, USA

Tel: +678 799 2535




Until the 1990s, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) was viewed as the most common epithelial neoplasm developing in association with nevus sebaceus (NS). Currently, trichoblastoma is thought of as the most prevalent basaloid neoplasm in NS. The follicular stem cell marker pleckstrin homology-like domain, family A, member 1 (PHLDA1) also known as T-cell death-associated gene 51 (TDAG51) labels trichoepithelioma (TE) but not BCC. Therefore, we explored its usefulness in basaloid neoplasms developing in NS.


We studied immunohistochemically PHLDA1 in 10 nodular BCCs, 11 TEs, 11 trichoblastomas and 25 NS with basaloid tumors. Additionally, we examined the expression of BCC marker BerEP4 and the distribution of Merkel cells that function as surrogate markers for benign follicular neoplasms.


Nineteen of the 25 basaloid tumors in NS were PHLDA1-negative comparable to BCC arising de novo and six tumors were PHLDA1-positive comparable to solitary trichoblastomas and TEs. Fewer Merkel cells were seen in BCCs associated with NS when compared with trichoblastoma. BerEP4 did not discriminate between the neoplasms.


We raise concern that the unquestioned assessment that basaloid tumors developing in association with NS represent mostly trichoblastomas and not BCC may not be true. This influences clinical care, as it is paramount in the decision of whether to excise these lesions or not.