Use of p63 expression in distinguishing primary and metastatic cutaneous adnexal neoplasms from metastatic adenocarcinoma to skin

J Cutan Pathol. 2007 Jun;34(6):474-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0560.2006.00644.x.


p63, a recently identified homologue of the p53 gene, is mainly expressed by basal and myoepithelial cells in skin. Others and we have shown the value of p63 in distinguishing primary adnexal tumors from visceral adenocarcinomas metastatic to skin. We now investigate the pattern of p63 expression in metastases from skin adnexal carcinomas and their cognate primaries and evaluate p63 expression in a larger case series of malignant cutaneous adnexal neoplasms. Immunohistochemical analysis for p63 was performed on 13 metastases of adnexal carcinomas and their corresponding primary tumors. Twenty visceral metastatic adenocarcinomas to the skin and 7 primary mucinous carcinomas with cutaneous or visceral origin were compared. The majority (90.9%) of primary adnexal tumors strongly expressed p63 and their metastases labeled similar to their cognate primary tumors. With one exception, primary or metastatic mucinous carcinomas did not express p63. Metastases from two apocrine carcinomas lacked p63 expression. All other cutaneous metastases from internal adenocarcinomas were negative for p63. Analysis of p63 expression may assist in the differential diagnosis of primary adnexal carcinomas versus metastatic visceral adenocarcinomas to the skin. Metastases from adnexal carcinomas generally retain p63 expression similar to their associated primary tumors.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / secondary
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Neoplasms, Adnexal and Skin Appendage / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms, Adnexal and Skin Appendage / secondary
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • TP63 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins