Background: The methylation of DNA at position 5 of cytosine, and the subsequent reduction in intracellular 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) levels, is a key epigenetic event in several cancers, including systemic lymphomas. However, no studies have analyzed this epigenetic marker in cutaneous lymphomas. Therefore, we aimed to analyze the expression of 5-hmC in cutaneous CD30-positive lymphoproliferative disorders and compare it with a control group composed of reactive infectious and inflammatory disorders with CD30-positive cells.
Methods: Retrospective case series study with immunohistochemical analysis using anti-CD30 and anti-5-hmC antibodies in control (n = 19), lymphomatoid papulosis (LyP) (n = 27) and primary cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) (n = 14) specimens.
Results: Complete loss of 5-hmC nuclear staining by CD30+ cells was observed in 63% of LyP cases, 57% of ALCL cases and 0% of control cases.
Conclusions: The presence of 5-hmC+ and CD30+ lymphocytes was highly suggestive of a benign process. In contrast, loss of 5-hmC nuclear staining was highly suggestive of a lymphoproliferative disorder (ALCL or LyP). Under these circumstances, the use of 5-hmC staining can be a useful adjunctive tool for discriminating between neoplastic CD30+ lymphoproliferations and inflammatory/infectious simulators harboring reactive CD30+ cells.