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A Donor Cornea With Metastatic Cells From a Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma

Campanelli, Marino MD; Mistò, Raffaela PhD; Limongelli, Anna MSc; Valente, Maria G. MD; Cuttin, Maria S. MD; D'Amato Tóthová, Jana PhD

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31829de477
Case Report

Purpose: To describe the case of a donor cornea that showed hematogenous metastatic spread of cutaneous melanoma to the sclerocorneal limbus.

Methods: Corneal tissue obtained from a donor with cutaneous malignant melanoma was evaluated for endothelial cell density, corneal transparency, and epithelial morphology. Subsequently, hematoxylin and eosin staining and immunohistochemical characterization using S100, HMB45, Melan-A, and CD34 antibodies were performed on the corneal sections.

Results: The corneal tissue was transparent with high endothelial cell density; it was graded as being suitable for transplantation according to the current eye bank criteria. However, the aggressiveness of the donor's cancer and the diffuse melanosis of the sclera led to the suspicion of malignant melanoma metastasis to the cornea. Histochemical analysis of the corneoscleral rim showed small aggregates rich in pigmented cells that were localized in cleft-like structures in the sclera, at the sclerocorneal interface and in the peripheral avascular portion of the cornea. The aggregates were positive for the melanocytic tumor markers S100, HMB45, and Melan-A; the rims of the clefts expressed the panvascular CD34 antigen, which was suggestive of neovascularization.

Conclusions: Corneal tissue from a donor with malignant cutaneous melanoma displayed neoplastic lesions of melanocytic origin that had spread from a primitive melanoma through hematogenous routes to the sclerocorneal limbus. On the basis of this finding, we believe that having a metastatic cutaneous malignant melanoma could in some cases be reviewed as an exclusionary criterion for undergoing cornea transplantation.

*Monza Eye Bank Unit, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy;

Department of Pathology, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy; and

Research and Development, AL.CHI.MI.A. S.r.l., Ponte San Nicolò, Italy.

Reprints: Jana D'Amato Tóthová, AL.CHI.MI.A. S.r.l., Viale Austria 14, 35020 Ponte San Nicolò (PD), Italy (e-mail:

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Received March 01, 2013

Accepted May 24, 2013

Copyright © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.