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Am J Clin Pathol. 1992 Apr;97(4):478-83.

Immunohistochemical characterization of atypical fibroxanthoma and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan 48202.


Atypical fibroxanthoma (AFX) and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) have generated undue interest regarding their histogenesis, biological behavior, and differentiation from other forms of spindle cell tumors of the skin, including spindle cell squamous carcinomas and desmoplastic melanomas. To identify characteristic immunophenotypes, 12 AFXs and 15 DFSPs were examined with a panel of antibodies against cytokeratin; vimentin; desmin; proteolytic enzymes (alpha-1-antitrypsin and alpha-1-antichymotrypsin); melanoma-associated antigens defined by HMB-45, HMB-50, and NKI/C3; muscle-specific actin (HHF-35); and S-100 protein. The staining patterns of these two tumors were nearly identical. All cases tested negative for cytokeratin, desmin, and S-100 protein and strongly positive for vimentin. Six (50%) AFXs and 12 (80%) DFSPs tested focally positive for muscle-specific actin. None of the cases were reactive with melanoma antibodies HMB-45 and HMB-50; NKI/C3 strongly stained 26 of 27 tumors. Compared to HMB-45 and HMB-50, NKI/C3 cross-reacted with nonmelanocytic neoplasms. Two AFXs stained for alpha-1-antitrypsin and alpha-1-antichymotrypsin. This study confirms (1) the immunophenotypic similarity of AFX and DFSP, (2) the presence of myofibroblastic differentiation in both tumors, as reflected by HHF-35 staining, and (3) that AFX and DFSP are easily distinguished from spindle cell squamous carcinoma and desmoplastic melanoma by the absence of cytokeratin, HMB-45, and HMB-50 staining.

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