Riehl's melanosis is a hyperpigmentary disorder that occurs predominantly on the face and neck. To date, the pathogenesis of Riehl's melanosis with regards to the melanogenic properties and paracrine melanogenic molecules has not well been studied. This study was aimed to provide a novel perspective on the pathogenesis of Riehl's melanosis by identifying the relevant paracrine melanogenic molecules in Riehl's melanosis. Skin biopsies were performed on lesional and normal-appearing perilesional skin of 12 patients with Riehl's melanosis and 12 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Histopathological and immunohistochemical staining for paracrine melanogenic molecules was analyzed. The major histopathological findings of Riehl's melanosis were basal hyperpigmentation, melanocyte proliferation, interface change, dermal pigmentary incontinence, vascular proliferation, and dermal inflammation. Dermal expression intensities of stem cell factor (SCF) and c-kit were increased in the lesional skin of Riehl's melanosis. In addition, increased expression of epidermal and dermal ET-1 was also observed in the lesional skin of Riehl's melanosis. Increased tissue expressions of SCF, c-kit, and ET-1 in Riehl's melanosis support the role of these paracrine melanogenic molecules in the pathogenesis of Riehl's melanosis. The findings from this study might present useful information on the pathogenetic mechanism of Riehl's melanosis.
Keywords: Riehl’s melanosis; c-kit; endothelin-1; pigmented contact dermatitis; stem cell factor.