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Review
, 116, 99-105

Reviewing the Current Evidence Supporting Early B-cells as the Cellular Origin of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

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Review

Reviewing the Current Evidence Supporting Early B-cells as the Cellular Origin of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

C M Sauer et al. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol.

Abstract

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a highly malignant skin cancer characterized by early metastases and poor survival. Although MCC is a rare malignancy, its incidence is rapidly increasing in the U.S. and Europe. The discovery of the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) has enormously impacted our understanding of its etiopathogenesis and biology. MCCs are characterized by trilinear differentiation, comprising the expression of neuroendocrine, epithelial and B-lymphoid lineage markers. To date, it is generally accepted that the initial assumption of MCC originating from Merkel cells (MCs) is unlikely. This is owed to their post-mitotic character, absence of MCPyV in MCs and discrepant protein expression pattern in comparison to MCC. Evidence from mouse models suggests that epidermal/dermal stem cells might be of cellular origin in MCC. The recently formulated hypothesis of MCC originating from early B-cells is based on morphology, the consistent expression of early B-cell lineage markers and the finding of clonal immunoglobulin chain rearrangement in MCC cells. In this review we elaborate on the cellular ancestry of MCC, the identification of which could pave the way for novel and more effective therapeutic regimens.

Keywords: B-cell differentiation; Cell of origin; Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma; Lymphoma; Merkel cell; Merkel cell carcinoma; Merkel cell polyoma virus; Oncogenesis; Pathogenesis; Stem cell.

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