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Ann Plast Surg. 2015 Feb;74(2):230-6. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000000080.

Infantile hemangiomas exhibit neural crest and pericyte markers.

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From the Departments of *Surgery, †Immunobiology, and ‡Dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; and §Vascular Birthmarks Institute of New York, New York, NY.


Infantile hemangiomas (IHs) are the most common benign tumors of infancy and occur with greater than 60% prevalence on the head and neck. Despite their prevalence, little is known about the pathogenesis of this disease. Given the predilection of hemangioma incidence on the face and its nonrandom distribution on embryological fusion plates, we postulated that IHs are derived from pericytes of the neural crest. We performed an analysis on 15 specimens at various stages of the IH progression. Experiments performed included immunohistochemical staining, immunofluorescent staining, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, and flow cytometry. We analyzed a number of cell markers using these methods, including cell markers for the neural crest, pericytes, endothelial cells, stem cells, and the placenta. We observed that neural crest markers such as NG2 and nestin were expressed in the hemangioma samples, in addition tomultiple pericytes markers including δ-like kinase, smooth muscle actin, calponin, and CD90. Stem cell markers such as c-myc, oct4, nanog, and sox2 were also more highly expressed in hemangioma samples compared to controls. Our work demonstrates that hemangiomas express pericyte, neural crest, and stem cell markers suggesting a possible pathogenetic mechanism.

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