Differential expression of smooth muscle myosin, smooth muscle actin, h-caldesmon, and calponin in the diagnosis of myofibroblastic and smooth muscle lesions of skin and soft tissue

Am J Dermatopathol. 2006 Apr;28(2):105-11. doi: 10.1097/01.dad.0000200009.02939.cc.


The diagnosis of low-grade and pseudosarcomatous spindle cell lesions of skin and soft tissue can sometimes be problematic; in particular, distinction between fibroblastic, myofibroblastic, and smooth muscle proliferations can occasionally pose difficulties on routine histologic examination. We have applied a panel of immunohistochemical markers to a series of spindle cell lesions of skin and soft tissue to assess the utility of the differential expression of smooth muscle and myofibroblastic-associated markers. Twenty-eight cases of nodular fasciitis, 42 cases of fibromatosis, and 3 cases of myofibroblastic sarcoma were stained with antibodies against smooth muscle actin (SMA), smooth muscle myosin (SMMS), calponin, and high-molecular weight caldesmon (h-caldesmon). For comparison, 12 cases of cutaneous leiomyoma and 8 cases of leiomyosarcomas involving superficial soft tissues and fascia were studied with the same panel of antibodies. Thirty-eight of 42 cases of fibromatosis were positive for SMA, 42/42 cases were positive for calponin, 39/42 cases were negative for SMMS, and all cases were negative for h-caldesmon. All cases of nodular fasciitis were positive for SMA and calponin, and all were negative for h-caldesmon and SMMS. All cases of myofibroblastic sarcoma were positive for SMA and 2/3 cases for calponin, and were negative for SMMS and h-caldesmon. All cases of cutaneous leiomyoma and leiomyosarcoma were positive for all 4 markers tested. Our results demonstrate a remarkably consistent pattern of reactivity of muscle and myofibroblastic-associated markers in lesions predominantly composed of myofibroblastic spindle cells, characterized by positive staining for SMA and calponin and absence of reactivity for SMMS and h-caldesmon. Application of this panel of stains may be of aid in the differential diagnosis of low-grade myofibroblastic lesions such as nodular fasciitis and fibromatosis from smooth muscle tumors of skin and soft tissue. This panel may additionally be of assistance in the diagnosis of myofibroblastic sarcoma.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / analysis*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / analysis*
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins / analysis*
  • Fascia / pathology
  • Fasciitis / diagnosis
  • Fasciitis / pathology
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Fibroma / diagnosis
  • Fibroma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma / diagnosis
  • Leiomyoma / pathology
  • Leiomyosarcoma / diagnosis
  • Leiomyosarcoma / pathology
  • Male
  • Microfilament Proteins / analysis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Proteins / analysis*
  • Sarcoma / diagnosis
  • Sarcoma / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Smooth Muscle Myosins / analysis*
  • Smooth Muscle Tumor / diagnosis*
  • Smooth Muscle Tumor / pathology
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / pathology


  • Actins
  • Biomarkers
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • calponin
  • Smooth Muscle Myosins