Expression of Melan-A in cutaneous granular cell tumours: a diagnostic pitfall

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Morphological overlap exists between cutaneous granular cell tumours (GCT) and malignant melanoma, with the melanocyte-specific markers HMB45 and Melan-A commonly used to support the diagnosis of melanoma. We recently encountered several cases of GCT in our practice showing strong expression of Melan-A. The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence of positive immunohistochemical staining for Melan-A and HMB45 in a series of unequivocal GCTs. We also aimed to assess the prevalence of staining for PRAME (PReferentially expressed Antigen in MElanoma), a marker expressed in >80% of primary melanomas as well as many non-melanocytic tumours. A total of 20 cutaneous/subcutaneous GCTs were evaluated using Melan-A, HMB45 and PRAME immunohistochemistry. Staining for Melan-A and HMB45 was scored using a semiquantitative scale from 0 (absent) to 3+ (staining present in >50% of tumour cells). PRAME expression was recorded as either positive (>75% of cell nuclei staining) or negative. Melan-A expression was observed in four GCTs (20%), with strong and diffuse (3+) staining seen in two cases (10%), both from anogenital areas. Weak patchy nuclear PRAME expression was seen in every case, interpreted to be negative. HMB45 was also negative in all cases (100%). Our study demonstrates that Melan-A expression can be strong and diffuse in a subset of otherwise unequivocal cutaneous GCTs, which may cause diagnostic confusion with malignant melanoma. HMB45 and PRAME did not stain any of the GCTs in our series.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-51
Number of pages5
Issue number1
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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