Lupus erythematosus panniculitis (lupus profundus): Clinical, histopathological, and molecular analysis of nine cases

Cesare Massone, Kazuo Kodama, Wolfgang Salmhofer, Riichiro Abe, Hiroshi Shimizu, Aurora Parodi, Helmut Kerl, Lorenzo Cerroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The diagnosis of lupus erythematosus panniculitis (LEP) may be very difficult in cases in which involvement of the subcutaneous fat is the only manifestation of the disease. The main differential diagnosis is subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma (SPTCL). Methods: We performed a retrospective study reviewing the histopathologic features of 11 biopsy specimens from nine patients with LEP (M : F = 2 : 7; median age: 48 years; range: 20-71 years). Results: Histopathologically, all biopsies revealed a lobular panniculitis, with concomitant septal involvement in 82% of them. Dermal changes included the presence of superficial and deep infiltrates (82%) and mucin deposition (73%). The majority of cases (73%) presented also some form of epidermal involvement. The subcutaneous infiltrate was composed of lymphocytes in all cases, admixed with plasma cells in 91% of cases. Lymphoid follicles with reactive germinal centers were detected in 45% of cases. Immunohistochemistry showed a predominance of α/β-T-helper and cytotoxic lymphocytes in 80% of cases admixed with B lymphocytes. The polymerase chain reaction analysis of the T-cell receptor (TCR)-γ gene showed a polyclonal smear in all cases. Conclusions: Our study shows that the most useful histopathologic criteria for distinguishing LEP from SPTCL are the presence of involvement of the epidermis, lymphoid follicles with reactive germinal centers, mixed cell infiltrate with prominent plasma cells, clusters of B lymphocytes, and polyclonal TCR-γ gene rearrangement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-404
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cutaneous Pathology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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