Adipophilin expression in skin lesions with clear cell histology

J Clin Pathol. 2022 Sep;75(9):627-631. doi: 10.1136/jclinpath-2021-207443. Epub 2021 May 5.


Aims: Clear cells formed due to depositions of glycogen or lipids in the cytoplasm commonly occur in various tissues. Adipophilin (ADP), a lipid regulatory protein, is closely related to lipid droplets. This study aims to examine adipophilin expression in clear cells of various skin lesions.

Methods: ADP expression was examined using immunohistochemistry in 108 sections from 15 skin lesion types with clear cell histology, namely, sebaceoma (n=16), sebaceous adenoma (n=3), sebaceous carcinoma (n=12), xanthomata cutis (n=10), xanthogranuloma (n=8), Paget's disease (n=10), Bowen disease (n=10), hidradenoma (n=9), atypical lipoma (n=5), superficial lipomatous nevus (n=5), metastatic renal cell carcinoma (n=5), squamous cell carcinoma (n=4), seborrheic keratosis (n=4), dermatofibroma (n=4) and clear cell sarcoma (n=3).

Results: ADP was not expressed in Bowen disease, hidradenoma or seborrheic keratosis. Four expression patterns, foamy, reticular, granular and punctate, were summarised based on their expression in clear cells. Different expression patterns were related to tissue origin and differentiation degree. Foamy expression was commonly observed in lesions with mature sebaceous glands and xanthomas; reticular expression in adipocytes; granular expression in xanthoma, xanthogranuloma and metastatic renal carcinoma and punctate expression in sebaceoma, sebaceous carcinoma, Paget's disease, squamous cell carcinoma and clear cell sarcoma. Furthermore, stronger staining with focal vesicular labelling was noted in sebaceoma than in sebaceous carcinoma. Characteristic labelling was noted, including the circular distribution in Touton giant cells of xanthogranulomas and focal distribution in the clear cells along the edge of necrotic tissue in clear cell sarcoma.

Conclusions: ADP is useful in identifying intracytoplasmic lipids and can be used to diagnose skin lesions with clear cell histology, especially in some lesions with characteristic labelling.

Keywords: Paget's disease; skin; skin neoplasms.

MeSH terms

  • Acrospiroma*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous* / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous* / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous* / pathology
  • Bowen's Disease*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratosis, Seborrheic*
  • Kidney Neoplasms*
  • Lipids
  • Perilipin-2
  • Sarcoma, Clear Cell*
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Sweat Gland Neoplasms* / diagnosis


  • Lipids
  • Perilipin-2