What are the histologic findings of Merkel cells and Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC)?

Updated: Jan 18, 2019
  • Author: Arjun S Joshi, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

Ultrastructural and immunohistochemical studies provide support for each hypothesis. Merkel cells and MCCs have similar neuroendocrine markers, such as neuron-specific enolase, chromogranin, and synaptophysin. However, MCC expresses neurofilament proteins not observed in normal Merkel cells. MCC seldom expresses vasoactive intestinal peptide or metenkephalin, 2 markers found in healthy Merkel cells. See image shown below.

Histologic appearance of nodular Merkel cell carci Histologic appearance of nodular Merkel cell carcinoma. This dermal nodule has a cohesive, expansile growth of basophilic cells.

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