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June 1993

p53 Protein Expression in Nevi and Melanomas

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pathology (Drs Boi, Girlando, Dalla Palma, and Barbareschi) and Dermatology (Drs M. Cristofolini, Zumiani, and P. Cristofolini), S. Chiara Hospital, Trento; and Department of Pathology, City Hospital of Feltre (Dr Doglioni), Italy.

Arch Dermatol. 1993;129(6):739-743. doi:10.1001/archderm.1993.01680270077009

• p53 Protein immunohistochemical expression is a widespread feature of the malignant phenotype; most melanomas are reported as p53 positive, while nevi are reported as p53 negative. We investigate a series of 75 benign nevi and 47 melanomas (40 primary and seven metastatic) to evaluate their pattern of p53 immunoreactivity with a panel of specific antibodies (PAb1801, PAb240, D07, and CM1) in view of a possible diagnostic role of p53 immunostaining. Our results demonstrate that 15% of nevi show p53 immunoreactive nuclei (usually in less than 1% of the cells) and that 30% of melanomas show p53 immunoreactive nuclei (one case with 20% immunoreactive cells, six cases with 1% to 5% positive cells, and four cases with less than 1 % positive nuclei). p53 Positivity was seen also in basal and suprabasal keratinocytes. p53 Positivity in nevi is at variance with literature data supporting that nevi are p53 negative. p53 Positivity in nevi and in epidermis may be related to mechanisms of DNA repair, apoptosis, or to a specific phase of the cell cycle. In our series, p53 expression in melanomas is not as frequent as reported in the literature. Population-based differences or differences in case selection and sample handling may account for the above discrepancies. The demonstration of p53 positivity in benign skin lesions greatly hinders the possibility of a diagnostic use of p53 immunostaining in dermatopathology.

(Arch Dermatol. 1993;129:739-743)

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