Clear Cell Change in Reactive Angiogenesis: A Potential Diagnostic Pitfall

Iva Brčić, Smiljana Spasić, Jonathan S. England, Yiqin Zuo, Jaylou Velez-Torres, Julio A. Diaz-Perez, Gregor Gorkiewicz, Andrew E. Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reactive angiogenesis is commonplace, occurs in many circumstances, and is important in the repair of injured tissue. Histologically, it is characterized by newly formed capillaries arranged in a lobular architecture and lined by plump endothelial cells. We have encountered a form of reactive angiogenesis not well described; composed of large endothelial cells with abundant clear cytoplasm that causes diagnostic challenges. The cohort includes 10 patients, aged 4 to 61, mean 40 years; 7 males, 3 females. One case involved bone (ilium), and 9 involved soft tissue: fingers (n=2), toes (n=2), hip joint (n=1), shoulder (n=1), thigh (n=2), and anal mucosa (n=1). Clinically, the patients had chronic ulcers, osteomyelitis, or localized infection. All cases exhibited a lobular proliferation of capillaries lined by large polyhedral endothelial cells that obscured the vessel lumens and were admixed with acute and chronic inflammation. The endothelial nuclei were vesicular with small nucleoli and the cytoplasm was abundant and clear or palely eosinophilic. The endothelial cells were stained with CD31 and ERG (7/7 cases), CD34 (6/6), FLI1 (4/4), and were negative for keratin and CD68 (6/6). Periodic acid-Schiff stain and periodic acid-Schiff stain-diastase on 3 cases did not demonstrate glycogen. Using a polymerase chain reaction, no Bartonella henselae was found in all 6 cases tested. Reactive angiogenesis with clear cell change unassociated with Bartonella spp. has not been described. It causes diagnostic challenges and the differential diagnosis includes benign and malignant tumors, as well as unusual infections. It is important to distinguish between these possibilities because of the significant impact on treatment and prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-536
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • bacillary angiomatosis
  • clear
  • endothelial cells
  • epithelioid angiomatosis
  • reactive angioendotheliomatosis
  • reactive angiomatosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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