gms | German Medical Science

78th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

16.05. - 20.05.2007, Munich

Melanocyte localization and distribution in human cholesteatoma

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author Ewa Olszewska - Department of Otolaryngology Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Polen
  • Matthias Wagner - Department of General and Special Pathology, Saarland University, Homburg-Saar
  • Tao Upile - Department of Head & Neck Surgery, Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London, United Kingdom
  • Holger Sudhoff - Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Bochum

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Hals-Nasen-Ohren-Heilkunde, Kopf- und Hals-Chirurgie. 78. Jahresversammlung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Hals-Nasen-Ohren-Heilkunde, Kopf- und Hals-Chirurgie e.V.. München, 16.-20.05.2007. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2007. Doc07hnod342

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: April 24, 2007

© 2007 Olszewska et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Introduction: Melanocytes in skin are derivates of the neural crest and colonize the epidermis in the first trimester of gestation. During embryogenesis, the pharyngeal pounches generate the mucosa of the middle ear, the nasopharynx, and the mounth. The aim of our study was to evaluate the prevalence and role of melanocytes in human cholesteatoma and normal meatal skin in Caucasian adults.

Material and methods: Human cholesteatoma (n=18) and normal meatal skin samples (n=10) were investigated immunohistochemically with anti-HMB-45 and MART-1 antibodies. Localization and distribution of melanocytes were assessed in the epidermis and cholesteatoma using the automatic analyzing system (DP SOFT version 3.2, New York, USA).

Results: Regular skin exhibited melanocytes within the epidermis and accounting for 10% of the total cell number. They occurred partly as membrane-bound clusters. Cholesteatoma matrix melanocytes were observed in the basal layer of exhibiting an oval or round morphology. Decreased numbers of melanocytes in the basal layer correlated with keratinization in cholesteatoma samples. Melanocytes revealed monomorphous nuclei, abundant cytoplasm containing particles of melanin. Accounting for 2-6% of the total cell number within the squamous epithelium, melanocytes density was significantly lower in cholesteatoma tissue than in skin.

Conclusion: Melanocytes distribution pattern was slightly different compared the epithelia of skin and cholesteatoma. The presence of melanocytes in cholesteatoma may be due to an ingrowth consequently controlled by keratinocyte-derived signals. In terms the pathogenesis of cholesteatoma matrix neither squamous metaplasia nor melanocyte metaplasia can be excluded by our data.