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Loss of p21WAF1 compartmentalisation in sebaceous carcinoma compared with sebaceous hyperplasia and sebaceous adenoma
  1. S R McBride1,
  2. N Leonard2,
  3. N J Reynolds1
  1. 1Department of Dermatology, Medical School, Framlington Place, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK
  2. 2Department of Pathology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor N J Reynolds, Department of Dermatology, Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK;


Aims: Regulation of cell cycle progression is a fundamental control process, linked to cellular differentiation and apoptosis in normal tissues. p21WAF1 is a nuclear protein that regulates cell cycle progression. p21WAF1 can be transcriptionally upregulated by p53, but may be activated independently of p53—for example, during terminal differentiation. Loss of topological control of p21WAF1 expression is an early feature of malignancy in the colorectal system. Similar to the colonic mucosa, sebaceous glands contain cells that are constantly going through a process of cell division, differentiation, and cell death. This study investigated the expression of p53, p21WAF1, and the proliferation marker Ki67 in normal sebaceous glands, sebaceous adenoma, sebaceoma, and sebaceous carcinoma.

Methods: Serial sections were stained with monoclonal antibodies to p21WAF1, p53, and Ki67 (MIB1) using standard immunohistochemical techniques.

Results: In normal sebaceous glands, p21WAF1 positive cells were only seen within the differentiating compartment, which was spatially distinct from the cycling peripheral Ki67 positive cells. In sebaceous adenoma and sebaceoma, topological control was maintained, with the distribution of markers being similar to that seen in normal sebaceous glands. Loss of topological control of markers of cellular control was seen in sebaceous carcinoma only. This contrasts with colonic tumours, in which loss of p21 compartmentalisation is seen in adenomas at an early stage of tumour progression.

Conclusion: This work confirms the hypothesis that the dysregulation of cell cycle progression is an important process in the development of malignancy within sebaceous glands, although loss of topological control was seen only in sebaceous carcinoma.

  • sebaceous tumours
  • Ki67
  • p21
  • CDK, cyclin dependent kinase
  • PCNA, proliferating cell nuclear antigen

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