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Am J Dermatopathol. 1997 Aug;19(4):341-50.

Trichoblastoma and basal cell carcinoma are neoplasms with follicular differentiation sharing the same profile of cytokeratin intermediate filaments.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Friedrichshafen, Germany.


Trichoblastoma and nodular basal cell carcinoma are generally held to be distinctive epithelial neoplasms with some overlapping features. We investigated 30 trichoblastomas in which the basaloid cells expressed cytokeratins (CK) CK5/6, CK14, CK17, CK19, and, in a few cells, vimentin. The cells of the periphery of small and large cysts showed the same profile. Cells lining the lumen of small cysts expressed CK14, CK17, and involucrin, and those in larger cysts showed a positivity for CK1, CK4, CK10, CK14, CK17, and involucrin. The remaining tested antibodies (CK7, CK8, CK13, CK18, CK20, alpha-smooth-muscle actin) were negative in all cases. The cells of the stroma expressed vimentin and in 22 cases, the CD34 antigen. Seventeen nodular basal cell carcinomas showed exactly the same staining pattern. Furthermore, there are striking immunohistochemical similarities between the neoplastic basaloid cells of both neoplasms and the cells of the hair germ. Therefore, trichoblastoma and nodular basal cell carcinoma cannot be distinguished by their pattern of cytokeratin expression in paraffin sections. The virtually identical cytokeratin pattern seen in trichoblastoma, basal cell carcinoma, and the developing fetal hair follicle is compelling evidence for common differentiation pathway.

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