Which histologic findings are characteristic of acrodermatitis enteropathica?

Updated: Aug 21, 2019
  • Author: Kristina Marie Dela Rosa, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Histological evaluation of a skin biopsy specimen is characteristic, but the same findings can be seen in other nutritional disorders. The histological findings vary with the age of the lesion. Early lesions show confluent parakeratosis associated with a reduced granular layer. Often, exocytosis of neutrophils into the epidermis is noted, which may be acanthotic and exhibit slight spongiosis. The intracellular edema eventuates into pallor of the upper third of the epidermis. [27] Subsequently, subcorneal and intraepidermal clefts may develop as a result of massive ballooning and reticular degeneration, with necrosis of the keratinocytes. [28] In late lesions, psoriasiform hyperplasia of the epidermis and less epidermal pallor are noted. [29]

Electron microscopy

Extracellular edema is associated with degenerate keratinocytes with multiple cytoplasmic vacuoles and slender, fingerlike protrusions. Few desmosomes are present, and the basal lamina is well preserved. Additionally, accumulation of cytoplasmic lipid droplets and intracellular edema in the spinous layer of the epidermis are seen. [30]

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