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Am J Surg Pathol. 1999 Sep;23(9):1040-7.

The histopathology of cutaneous lesions of Kikuchi's disease (necrotizing lymphadenitis): a report of five cases.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque 87106, USA.


Kikuchi's disease (KD) is an idiopathic, self-limited necrotizing lymphadenitis that can clinically and histologically mimic high-grade lymphoma, including Hodgkin's disease, or can be mistaken for the lymphadenitis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Involvement of extranodal sites is unusual but well documented, especially in Asia, where KD is more common than in North America or Europe. The successful distinction of KD from malignant lymphoma and SLE is imperative for the appropriate treatment of affected patients. We describe five patients with cutaneous involvement by KD, all of whom presented with fever, lymphadenopathy, and an eruption on the skin of the upper body, which in one case was clinically suspected to be due to SLE and in another, polymorphous light eruption. The patients ranged in age from 10 months to 42 years (median, 33 years) and included three females and two males. All five patients had negative serologic studies for collagen vascular disease. Each patient had a lymph node biopsy showing the typical necrotizing lymphadenitis of KD. Skin biopsies from all five patients shared a specific constellation of histologic features: vacuolar interface change with necrotic keratinocytes, a dense lymphohistiocytic superficial and deep perivascular and interstitial infiltrate, varying amounts of papillary dermal edema, and abundant karyorrhectic debris with a conspicuous absence of neutrophils and a paucity of plasma cells, paralleling the nodal histology in KD. CD68 immunohistochemistry on paraffin-embedded sections showed many histiocytes and plasmacytoid monocytes in all cases, whereas CD3, CD4, and CD8 showed highly variable staining among the cases. There was only rare staining with TIA-1 and CD30. We believe that the papular eruption of KD has recognizable histopathologic features and that a CD68 stain that marks many cells that initially seem to be lymphocytes can be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

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