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Malignant Melanoma With Paradoxical Maturation

Ruhoy, Steven M. M.D.; Prieto, Victor G. M.D., Ph.D.; Eliason, Susan L. M.D.; Grichnik, James M. M.D., Ph.D.; Burchette, James L. Jr. H.T. (A.S.C.P.); Shea, Christopher R. M.D.

The American Journal of Surgical Pathology: December 2000 - Volume 24 - Issue 12 - p 1600-1614
Original Articles

Typically, melanocytic nevi “mature” (i.e., exhibit a morphologic shift to smaller or spindle cells with progressive depth in the dermis). In contrast, most malignant melanomas (conventional MMs) lack maturation, and are composed of large pleomorphic cells throughout. The authors describe a series of melanomas with paradoxical maturation mimicking the pattern of nevi. Seventeen primary invasive melanomas with paradoxical maturation (IMPs), two epidermotropic metastatic melanomas with maturation (EMMMs), 13 compound nevi (CN), and 14 conventional MMs without apparent maturation were analyzed by histologic, cytomorphometric, and immunohistochemical techniques. With increasing dermal depth, both CN and IMPs had smaller nuclear and cellular areas, and decreased expression of Ki-67, glycoprotein (gp)100 (with HMB-45), and tyrosinase. IMPs had significant differences from conventional MMs; namely, smaller nuclear and cytoplasmic areas (deep), and decreased expression of Ki-67 (superficial and deep), gp100 (deep), and tyrosinase (deep). IMPs also had notable differences from CN: namely, larger nuclear and cellular areas, more confluence, more mitotic figures, increased Ki-67 and gp100 expression in both the superficial and deep portions, and more melanin (deep). The two EMMMs exhibited histologic and immunohistochemical features similar to the primary IMPs. IMP, because of its mimicry of nevus, can present a diagnostic hazard. The authors propose histologic, morphometric, and immunohistochemical criteria that facilitate recognition and accurate diagnosis of this unusual variant of melanoma.

From the Departments of Pathology (S.M.R., V.G.P., S.L.E., J.L.B., C.R.S.) and Medicine (Dermatology; V.G.P., J.M.G., C.R.S.), Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Christopher R Shea, MD, DUMC Pathology, Box 3712, Durham, NC 27710 U.S.A.; e-mail:

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.