Androgen receptor identification in the diagnosis of eyelid sebaceous carcinomas

Am J Ophthalmol. 2014 Mar;157(3):687-96.e1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2013.12.009. Epub 2013 Dec 10.


Purpose: To assess the role of androgen receptor detection in diagnosing eyelid sebaceous carcinomas and to compare it with that of adipophilin.

Design: Retrospective, clinicopathologic study.

Methods: Ten sebaceous carcinomas (8 invasive, 2 intraepithelial only) were stained immunohistochemically for androgen receptors and were compared with adipophilin staining. Receptor staining also was performed on benign sebaceous tumors (a sebaceoma and an adenoma) and as controls on eyelid basal cell carcinomas, eyelid squamous cell carcinomas, conjunctival squamous dysplasias, and conjunctival melanomas.

Results: All 8 patients with an invasive component of sebaceous carcinoma underwent a biopsy in which the tumor cells showed diffusely positive results for androgen receptors (>20% of cells and usually >40%) and positive results for adipophilin. Eight cases displaying an intraepithelial (or pagetoid) component of spread also showed diffusely positive results for androgen receptors and adipophilin in at least 1 of multiple biopsy samples from each patient. However, in 8 of 21 separate conjunctival biopsy specimens with intraepithelial cytologic atypia, adipophilin results were negative. A sebaceoma and a sebaceous adenoma also showed positive results for both of these biomarkers. Among the controls, squamous carcinomas and melanomas showed negative results for androgen receptors and adipophilin. Basal cell carcinomas displayed focal receptor positivity in fewer than 5% of cells and showed negative results for adipophilin.

Conclusions: Androgen receptors and adipophilin can separate sebaceous tumors immunohistochemically from squamous carcinomas and melanomas, which showed negative results for both, and from basal cell carcinomas, which showed positive receptor results in a distant minority of cells. Regarding intraepithelial (or pagetoid) spread, androgen receptor detection was more sensitive and reliable than adipophilin in highlighting this component of the disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Perilipin-2
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Membrane Proteins
  • PLIN2 protein, human
  • Perilipin-2
  • Receptors, Androgen