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Adipophilin expression in skin lesions with clear cell histology
  1. Feng-Zeng Li1,
  2. Qian Ye1,
  3. Li-Wei Ran2,
  4. Sheng Fang1
  1. 1Dermatology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China
  2. 2Dermatology, Beijing Chaoyang Hospital Jingxi Branch, Beijing, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sheng Fang, Department of Dermatology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, China; fangshengderm{at}


Aims Clear cells formed due to depositions of glycogen or lipids in the cytoplasm commonly occur in various tissues. Adipophilin (ADP), a lipid regulatory protein, is closely related to lipid droplets. This study aims to examine adipophilin expression in clear cells of various skin lesions.

Methods ADP expression was examined using immunohistochemistry in 108 sections from 15 skin lesion types with clear cell histology, namely, sebaceoma (n=16), sebaceous adenoma (n=3), sebaceous carcinoma (n=12), xanthomata cutis (n=10), xanthogranuloma (n=8), Paget’s disease (n=10), Bowen disease (n=10), hidradenoma (n=9), atypical lipoma (n=5), superficial lipomatous nevus (n=5), metastatic renal cell carcinoma (n=5), squamous cell carcinoma (n=4), seborrheic keratosis (n=4), dermatofibroma (n=4) and clear cell sarcoma (n=3).

Results ADP was not expressed in Bowen disease, hidradenoma or seborrheic keratosis. Four expression patterns, foamy, reticular, granular and punctate, were summarised based on their expression in clear cells. Different expression patterns were related to tissue origin and differentiation degree. Foamy expression was commonly observed in lesions with mature sebaceous glands and xanthomas; reticular expression in adipocytes; granular expression in xanthoma, xanthogranuloma and metastatic renal carcinoma and punctate expression in sebaceoma, sebaceous carcinoma, Paget’s disease, squamous cell carcinoma and clear cell sarcoma. Furthermore, stronger staining with focal vesicular labelling was noted in sebaceoma than in sebaceous carcinoma. Characteristic labelling was noted, including the circular distribution in Touton giant cells of xanthogranulomas and focal distribution in the clear cells along the edge of necrotic tissue in clear cell sarcoma.

Conclusions ADP is useful in identifying intracytoplasmic lipids and can be used to diagnose skin lesions with clear cell histology, especially in some lesions with characteristic labelling.

  • Paget's disease
  • skin
  • skin neoplasms

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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  • Handling editor Dhirendra Govender.

  • Contributors Conceived and designed the experiments: F-ZL and SF. Performed the experiments: F-ZL, SF, QY and L-WR. Analysed the data: F-ZL and QY. Wrote the paper: F-ZL and SF.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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