Detection of proopiomelanocortin-derived antigens in normal and pathologic human skin

Andrzej Slominski, Jacobo Wortsman, Joseph E. Mazurkiewicz, Lois Matsuoka, John Dietrich, Kathryn Lawrence, Ashkan Gorbani, Ralf Paus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


We investigated the presence of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) products in sections of skin from normal subjects and patients with neoplastic and non-neoplastic cutaneous disorders. Antibodies specific against adrenocorticotropin, β-melanotropin, and β-endorphin were used for detection and characterization of cell types bearing POMC peptides. POMC products were not observed in sections of normal skin from the corporal (non-scalp) areas (six cases), whereas the hair follicles of scalp skin exhibited positive immunostains that were readily apparent (four cases). POMC products were frequently detected in corporal skin affected by diseases (13 of 26 cases), for example, psoriatic keratinocytes, the inflammatory infiltrate in scarring alopecia, nevocytes, the epithelial cell nests of basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma cells. Further tests were performed in keloids, a primary reactive skin disorder, to evaluate whether POMC accumulation represented a disease-related phenomenon or an expression of normal cutaneous reactivity. POMC products were consistently detected (10 of 11 cases) in the keratinocytes and mononuclear cells at keloid lesions. Thus these observations indicate that POMC products may accumulate locally in lesional skin representing, presumably, a novel cutaneous response to injury. The broad spectrum of POMC products detected suggests that these arise from production in situ (expression of the POMC gene itself) by human skin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-666
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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