Merkel Cell Carcinoma — A Short Review

  • Ingrid Moll
  • Roland Moll
Conference paper


Merkel cell carcinoma represents the neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin which mostly develops in UV-exposed areas of elderly people.

Its clinical appearance is blue to red nodules. In H and E staining, monomorphic round cells resembling lymphoma cells are detectable. Ultrastructurally, these tumor cells reveal the typical neuroendocrine granules and fibrous bodies. Immunohistochemistry detecting the intermediate filaments became a milestone in the diagnosis of Merkel cell carcinomas. Thus, the coexpression of cytokeratins nos. 8, 18, 19, and especially no. 20, together with neurofilament proteins is, within the skin, unique for Merkel cell carcinoma. In addition, the decoration of paranuclear plaques of intermediate filaments are highly characteristic as well as neuroendocrine markers such as NSE, PGP 9.5 and N CAM. The histogenesis of Merkel cell carcinoma still remains speculative. Merkel cell carcinoma shares structural features with normal Merkel cells, such as neurosecretory granules and cytokeratin 20, but is different concerning the presence of fibrous bodies and neurofilament proteins. One hypothesis is that a pluripotent basal keratinocyte may give rise to Merkel cell carcinoma.


Intermediate Filament Small Cell Carcinoma Neuroendocrine Carcinoma Merkel Cell Carcinoma Fibrous Body 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingrid Moll
    • 1
  • Roland Moll
    • 2
  1. 1.Klinik für Dermatologie und VenerologieUniversitätsklinikum Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Klinikum LahnbergeInstitut für Pathologie der Philips-Universität MarburgMarburgGermany

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