Journal of cutaneous pathology

Melan-A positive dermal cells in malignant melanoma in situ.

PMID 25726939


The presence of Melan-A positive dermal cells in excisions for melanoma in situ represents a frequent conundrum for pathologists. These cells may represent superficially invasive melanoma, benign, incidental, dermal nevi or non-specific staining of dermal melanophages. Occasionally, rare, Melan-A positive dermal cells are present which do not clearly correspond to the above three categories. Our objective was to further characterize these Melan-A positive dermal cells. To do this, immunoperoxidase staining for Melan-A and SOX-10 was performed on 188-cutaneous excisions, including examples of melanoma in situ, atypical junctional melanocytic hyperplasia and non-melanocytic tumors. These were evaluated for the presence of Melan-A and SOX-10 positive dermal cells. Dermal cells, positive for both markers, were identified in 17% of the excisions. The cells were present in 10% of cases from the melanocytic group and 31% of the cases from the non-melanocytic group. These cells did not exhibit cytologic atypia and resembled neither the co-existing neoplasm nor melanophages. We conclude that positivity of these rare Melan-A positive cells for SOX-10 argues that they represent true melanocytes and not non-specific staining. The absence of cytologic atypia in these cells and their presence in excisions of non-melanocytic neoplasms argues that they are benign, reactive, dermal melanocytes.