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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2002 Jul;126(7):816-22.

Tyrosinase expression in malignant melanoma, desmoplastic melanoma, and peripheral nerve tumors.

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Department of Pathology, Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.



Pathologists may encounter problems in the differential diagnosis of malignant melanoma, spindle and epithelioid neoplasms of peripheral nerves, and fibrohistiocytic tumors. Tyrosinase has been demonstrated to be a sensitive marker for melanoma.


To determine the specificity of tyrosinase expression in the differential diagnosis of melanoma, desmoplastic melanoma, and peripheral nerve sheath tumors.


Immunoreactivity for tyrosinase, HMB-45 (anti-gp100 protein), S100 protein, CD34, and vimentin was studied in 70 tumors, including 15 melanomas (5 desmoplastic, 4 amelanotic, 6 melanotic), 13 malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors; 10 schwannomas (1 pigmented), 12 neurofibromas (4 pigmented), and 20 fibrohistiocytic tumors (10 dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans and 10 dermatofibromas). Microwave-based antigen retrieval was performed in 10mM citrate buffer, pH 6.0, for 20 minutes at 121 degrees C.


All melanomas demonstrated positive immunostaining for tyrosinase, HMB-45, and S100 protein. Immunoreactivity for HMB-45 was generally stronger than that for tyrosinase in amelanotic lesions and significantly stronger in 1 of the desmoplastic lesions. The 4 pigmented neurofibromas were focally positive for tyrosinase, but did not stain for HMB-45. The pigmented schwannoma was focally positive for both tyrosinase and HMB-45. The malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, and dermatofibromas were nonreactive for tyrosinase and HMB-45.


Our results support the sensitivity of tyrosinase expression and demonstrate the relative specificity of tyrosinase as a marker for melanocytic lesions, including desmoplastic melanoma, although pigmented peripheral nerve tumors may demonstrate focal positive staining. Immunoreactivity for tyrosinase and HMB-45 may have been enhanced by the microwave-based antigen-retrieval technique used in this study.

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