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Clinicopathologic and immunohistochemical features of pigmented Basal cell carcinomas of the eyelids.

PURPOSE: To describe the clinical and microscopic features of pigmented basal cell carcinomas (pBCC) of the eyelid.

DESIGN: Retrospective observational case series collected at one institution.

METHODS: An analysis of clinical records, photographs, and histopathologic characteristics of 257 BCCs with a review of the literature. The frequencies of clinically pigmented, and of microscopically pigmented but clinically nonpigmented, BCCs were determined. Cytochemical stains (Fontana-Masson, Prussian blue) and immunohistochemical probes (S-100, microphthalmia-associated transcription factor [MiTF], HMB-45, MART-1, CK20, synaptophysin, chromogranin, CD1a, Ki-67) were then employed and the findings correlated with the degree of clinical pigmentation.

RESULTS: Histopathologically, 13 of 257 cases (5.06%) were found to have pigment; of these 13, 6 (all white patients) had clinically apparent pigmentation (2.33%), either focal or diffuse. Eight of 13 lesions developed on the lower eyelids. All stained positively for melanin but negatively for iron. MiTF highlighted numerous melanocytic nuclei in the tumor lobules, while MART-1 and HMB-45 revealed the dendritic shapes of the entrapped melanocytes. There was a subtotal blockage of melanin transfer to the surrounding basaloid cells. Intralobular S-100-positive cells included CD1a-positive Langerhans cells, while CK20 did not identify any Merkel cells.

CONCLUSIONS: Only 1 of 6 lesions was uniformly clinically pigmented, whereas the other 5 were only focally brown-black. The clinical pigmentation was imparted by varying densities and distributions of melanocytes with arborizing dendrites, which were present in all BCCs. Melanophages within the stroma and basaloid cell melanization also contributed to pigmentation. No behavioral or biologic differences in pBCC were documented compared with clinically nonpigmented lesions.

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