Peripherin is an intermediate filament involved in growth and development of the peripheral nervous system, and is produced by neurons and the β cells of the islets of Langerhans. Recently, malignant melanomas and some melanocytic nevi have been shown to express peripherin. It is unknown if Schwann cells, also derived from the neural crest, express peripherin. Expression of peripherin was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in cutaneous lesions characterized by a prominent Schwann cell component including 26 neurofibromas (NF), 10 schwannomas (SCH), seven granular cell tumors, and five palisaded encapsulated neuromas (PEN); 13 neurotized melanocytic nevi (NMN) also were evaluated because these lesions contain Wagner-Meissnerlike structures and type C nevus cells, which exhibit a "schwannian" phenotype. Peripherin was detected in the axons of normal peripheral nerves. NF and PEN contained numerous axons dispersed throughout the lesions, whereas only scattered small nerves were seen in GCT. In SCH, only rare axons were labeled, mostly at the periphery of the lesions. All other cells in these four types of lesions, therefore including Schwann cells, were not labeled. In most NMN, labeled axons were identified within the lesions. In a few cases, rare epithelioid melanocytes within the superficial portions of the nevi were labeled. The Wagner-Meissnerlike structures and type C nevus cells (schwannian) were not labeled in any lesion; however, numerous labeled axons invested these areas. Because there are different relative numbers of peripherin-labeled axons throughout NF, PEN, some nevi, and SCH, analysis of peripherin expression may be helpful in the diagnosis of these lesions. Neurons and some epithelioid melanocytes, in contrast to type C nevus cells and Schwann cells of NF and SCH, express peripherin, providing further evidence for a transition from a more neuronal to a more schwannian phenotype during the normal maturation sequence of melanocytes in nevi.
From the Departments of Pathology, Duke University Medical Center (V.G.P.), Durham, North Carolina, and New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center (N.S.M., J.L., J.A.R.), New York, New York, USA.
Mr. Lugo is currently at Impath Laboratory, New York, USA.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. V.G. Prieto, Department of Pathology, Box 3712, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.