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Keywords:

  • bulge stem cells;
  • calretinin;
  • cytokeratin;
  • follicular differentiation;
  • keratoacanthoma

Background

Although the precise etiology of keratoacanthoma (KA) is unknown, KA is generally assumed to differentiate toward hair follicles based on previous studies of experimental carcinogenesis.

Methods

We performed a comprehensive immunohistochemical study of various follicular markers in all stages of KA. A total of 67 tumors, including 16 early or proliferative stage lesions, 43 well-developed stage lesions, five regressing stage lesions and three regressed stage lesions, were subjected to the analysis.

Results

CK15 (clone C8/144B), CK19 and CD34 were not expressed at any stage. CK1, CK10, CK16, CK17, CK15 (clone LHK15) and calretinin showed dynamic changes in their expression in KA depending on the stage.

Conclusions

KA is a follicular neoplasm with infundibular/isthmic (upper segmental region of hair follicles) differentiation. It is considered that early or proliferative stage tumors show keratin-filled invaginations with infundibular differentiation and gradual isthmic differentiation. Well-developed examples of KA generally show isthmic differentiation in the whole lesions. The regressed stage KAs lose the features of this type of follicular differentiation and show epidermal characteristics. No expression of CK15 (clone C8/144B) was observed in KAs, although this finding is insufficient to completely rule out the correlation between the regression of KA and the hair follicle cycle.