Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine skin cancer, often associated with Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Recently, immunoglobulin (Ig) expression was reported in MCC, thereby suggesting that B cells might be their cellular ancestors. We tested 30 MCCs (20 MCPyV-positive and 10 MCPyV-negative) using immunohistochemistry for the expressions of IgG, IgA, IgM, Igκ, Igλ, terminal desoxynucleotidyl transferase, paired box gene 5(PAX5), octamer transcription factor-2 (Oct-2), and sex-determining region Y-box 11 (SOX11). We performed in situ hybridization for IgκmRNA or Igλ-mRNA and Ig heavy chain (IgH) gene rearrangement (IgH-R) analyses. The expressions of PAX5, TdT, Oct-2, and SOX11 were not significantly different between MCPyV-positive and MCPyV-negative MCCs. At least 1 of IgG, IgA, IgM, or Igκ was expressed in MCPyV-positive (14/20, 70%) and none in MCPyV-negative MCCs (P=0.0003). There was a higher tendency for Igk-mRNA expression (7/19, using in situ hybridization) and IgH-R (10/20, using polymerase chain reaction) in MCPyV-positive than in MCPyV-negative MCCs (0/10 and 2/10, respectively), thus suggesting a different Ig production pattern and pathogenesis between the 2 types of MCC. Ig expression or IgH-R in MCPyV-positive MCCs might be associated with MCPyV gene integration or expression in cancer cells but do not necessarily suggest a B-cell origin for MCCs. IgH expression or IgH-R nonsignificantly correlated with improved prognosis. However, these might be important factors that influence the survival of neoplastic cells and might allow the development of novel therapies for patients with MCPyV-positive MCCs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine