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J Invest Dermatol. 1992 Dec;99(6):824-9.

Abnormal lamellar granules in harlequin ichthyosis.

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Department of Medicine/Dermatology, University of Washington, Seattle.


Lamellar granules are specialized lipid-rich organelles present in epidermal granular cells. They fuse with the apical cell surface and discharge their contents into the intercellular space forming lamellar sheets. It was previously shown by electron microscopy that lamellar granules in biopsies of infants affected with harlequin ichthyosis are either absent or abnormal and no intercellular lamellae could be detected. A monoclonal antibody (AE17) directed against a protein component of lamellar granules was used for immunoblotting and immunohistochemical studies as an indication of both the presence and function of lamellar granules. Epidermal extracts from all harlequin and normal specimens tested showed an immunoreactive protein of 25-28 kD. Immunohistochemical staining of normal skin using AE17 showed apical cytoplasmic staining in the granular layer and intercellular staining between the granular and stratum corneum cells. Harlequin samples showed variable degrees of staining ranging from little to heavy apical cytoplasmic staining of granular cells. No intercellular staining was detected. The immunohistochemical staining pattern correlated with the electron microscopic localization of abnormal vesicles and the absence of intercellular lamellae in the affected samples. We conclude that the vesicles represent lamellar granules that contain the AE17 antigen but are structurally abnormal and defective in their ability to discharge both their lipid and protein contents into the intercellular space. We suggest that this defect in the lamellar granules represents the underlying basis for stratum corneum cell retention and subsequent accumulation of scale in harlequin ichthyosis.

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