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March 1995

Differentiation and Clonality of Lesional Lymphocytes in Small Plaque Parapsoriasis

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Dermatology and Pathology and the Skin Diseases Research Center, Case Western Reserve University, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio (Drs Haeffner, Zepter, and Wood); and the Departments of Dermatology and Pathology, Stanford (Calif) University Medical Center (Dr Smoller).

Arch Dermatol. 1995;131(3):321-324. doi:10.1001/archderm.1995.01690150085017

Background:  Small plaque parapsoriasis is an idiopathic chronic dermatosis characterized by patches on the trunk and extremities that are often smaller than 5 cm in diameter and that sometimes have a digitate contour. These latter cases are often referred to as digitate dermatosis. Histopathologic examination reveals a mild superficial perivascular lymphocytic infiltrate associated with mild spongiosis and parakeratosis. To characterize this disease more completely, we analyzed the differentiation and clonality of lesional lymphocytes using immunohistologic and molecular biologic methods.

Observations:  We studied five cases using a frozen-section immunoperoxidase technique. In each case, there was a predominantly CD4+ T-cell infiltrate admixed with CD8+ T cells, Langerhans cells/indeterminate cells, and macrophages. In three cases, the clonality of lesional T cells was studied by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of polymerase chain reaction—amplified T-cell receptor-γ gene rearrangements. Two cases showed a dominant clonal pattern, while one case exhibited a polyclonal pattern. Clinical follow-up disclosed persistent disease in one of the two clonal cases, while lesions in the other clonal case and the polyclonal case gradually resolved.

Conclusions:  Our findings indicate that small plaque parapsoriasis is a clinically indolent, histopathologically nonspecific, predominantly CD4+ T-cell— mediated disease that, at least in some cases, contains a dominant T-cell clone. These features put small plaque parapsoriasis into a category with certain other members of the parapsoriasis group, namely, pityriasis lichenoides and lymphomatoid papulosis, which have been shown to be clonal T-cell disorders despite their clinically benign course. It remains to be determined if the dominant T-cell clones identified in some cases of small plaque parapsoriasis can ever be the direct precursors of overt cutaneous T-cell lymphomas.(Arch Dermatol. 1995;131:321-324)

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