Patterns of LC3A Autophagy Protein Expression in Keratoacanthomas


To investigate the expression patterns of autophagy marker light chain protein 3 (LC3A) in keratoacanthoma (KA). KAs are generally regarded as benign but malignant behavior, including rare metastases, may occur. 85 KAs were assessed for the LC3A autophagic protein by immunohistochemistry. Diffuse cytoplasmic staining and a “stone-like structure” (SLS) characterized positive expression. Thirty-four out of 85 KAs (40%) had diffuse cytoplasmic LC3A immunostaining (percentage of positive cells ranging from 5 to 60%). In contrast, only 4 of the 85 KAs (4.7%) expressed SLSs. Only one SLS was detected per histologic section of each tumor. The p53 oncoprotein was encountered in all cases with expression ranging from 1 to 90% of cells (median 30%). The Ki-67 index was expressed in 63 cases (74% of cases; range 1–50% of cells; median value 5%). Neither of these two parameters nor diffuse cytoplasmic LC3A staining was significantly correlated with SLS expression or lack thereof. Expression of SLSs, a hallmark of malignancy, was found in 4.7% of KAs. Further study is necessary to determine whether this fraction represents the exceptional cases that harbor latent malignant potential.

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Sivridis, E., Koukourakis, I.M., Arelaki, S. et al. Patterns of LC3A Autophagy Protein Expression in Keratoacanthomas. Head and Neck Pathol 14, 150–155 (2020).

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  • Keratoacanthoma
  • Autophagy
  • LC3A
  • Stone-like structures
  • P53
  • Ki67