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Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2019 Dec 17. doi: 10.4103/ijdvl.IJDVL_1011_18. [Epub ahead of print]

Thymocyte selection-associated high-mobility group box as a potential diagnostic marker differentiating hypopigmented mycosis fungoides from early vitiligo: A pilot study.

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Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.



Hypopigmented mycosis fungoides is a rare variant of mycosis fungoides that may mimic many benign inflammatory hypopigmented dermatoses, and as yet there is no identified marker to differentiate between them.


The aim of this study was to study the expression of thymocyte selection-associated high-mobility group box (TOX) in hypopigmented mycosis fungoides and one of its inflammatory mimickers (early active vitiligo) to assess its potential as a differentiating diagnostic marker.


A case-control study was done using immunohistochemical analysis of TOX expression in 15 patients with hypopigmented mycosis fungoides and 15 patients with early active vitiligo. Immunohistochemical analysis was done via a semi-quantitative method and an image analysis method.


Hypopigmented mycosis fungoides showed a statistically significant higher expression of TOX than early active vitiligo. The expression of TOX was positive in a majority of hypopigmented mycosis fungoides cases (14 cases, 93.3%), while only one case (6.7%) of vitiligo was weakly positive. TOX also displayed 93.3% sensitivity and specificity, with a cut-off value of 1.5.


This was a pilot study testing hypopigmented mycosis fungoides against only a single benign inflammatory mimicker (early vitiligo). Other benign mimickers were not included.


Our findings showed that TOX expression can differentiate hypopigmented mycosis fungoides from early active vitiligo which is one of its benign inflammatory mimickers, with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity.


Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma; TOX; hypopigmented mycosis fungoides; oncogenesis; thymocyte selection–associated high-mobility group box; vitiligo

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