Cytodiagnosis of malignant melanoma. Immunoperoxidase staining with HMB-45 antibody as an aid to diagnosis

Am J Clin Pathol. 1988 Jul;90(1):77-80. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/90.1.77.


The specificity and sensitivity of HMB-45, an antimelanoma monoclonal antibody, was evaluated in cytologic specimens from extracutaneous melanomas. Melanoma cells in 23 of 25 (92%) cases stained with this antibody. Staining was intense and diffuse in 22 of these melanomas and focal in 1. Amelanotic tumors and tumors with scanty pigment were included. Neither degree of pigmentation, site of primary, cytologic characteristics of tumor, nor source of specimen predicted the immunostaining pattern. Cytopreparations containing benign (6 cases) and malignant (16 cases) cells with which melanoma may be confused constituted the nonmelanoma group. None of the 22 cases in this group stained. Undifferentiated carcinomas, adenocarcinomas, large cell lymphomas, sarcomas, mesothelial hyperplasias, and a benign nerve sheath tumor were included. Effusions, fine-needle aspirates, bronchial material, and imprints were studied. All smears had been fixed and stained by Papanicolaou's method before immunostaining. Excellent cytomorphologic characteristics were preserved, and immunostaining was not affected. HMB-45 antibody is a highly specific and sensitive marker for malignant melanoma in cytologic material.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal*
  • Cytodiagnosis
  • Cytoplasm / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / secondary
  • Pigments, Biological / metabolism
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Pigments, Biological