Tyrosinase and nestin immunohistochemical expression in melanocytic nevi as a histopathologic pattern to trace melanocyte differentiation and nevogenesis

Daniela Murtas, Luca Pilloni, Andrea Diana, Laura Casula, Sara Tomei, Franca Piras, Caterina Ferreli, Cristina Maxia, Maria Teresa Perra

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3 Citations (Scopus)


While histological analysis represents a powerful tool for the classification of melanocytic lesions as benign or malignant, a clear-cut distinction between a nevus and a melanoma is sometimes a challenging step of the diagnostic process. The immunohistochemical detection of tyrosinase, cardinal melanogenic enzyme during melanocytic maturation, has often been helpful in formulating a differential diagnosis due to the peculiar staining pattern in nevocytes compared with melanoma cells. Tyrosinase distribution in nevi appears to overlap with the cytoarchitectural changes observable within these lesions, that result in epidermal or superficial dermal nevocytes being larger and strongly expressing melanocytic differentiation antigens, such as tyrosinase, compared with deeper dermal nevus cells. Our study aimed to evaluate the immunohistochemical expression pattern of tyrosinase in different histological types of acquired dysplastic melanocytic nevi, including junctional, compound, and intradermal nevi. Moreover, to estimate whether in nevocytes the expression of tyrosinase was associated with their differentiation state, we investigated the expression of two recognized markers of pluripotency, CD34 and nestin. In all examined nevi, our analysis revealed a remarkable immunoreactivity for tyrosinase in junctional and superficial dermal nevocytes and a decreasing gradient of staining in dermal nevocytes, up to become negative in deeper dermis. Meanwhile, junctional and dermal nevocytes were lacking in CD34 protein. Furthermore, nestin immunostaining showed an opposite distribution compared with tyrosinase, leading us to look into the tyrosinase/nestin expression pattern in melanocytic nevus as a tool to better understand the final stages of differentiation of melanocyte precursors toward their ultimate anatomical site into the epidermis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018



  • Dysplastic melanocytic nevi
  • Nestin
  • Neural crest
  • Nevogenesis
  • Tyrosinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Cell Biology

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