Transepithelial elimination of cutaneous vulval granuloma inguinale.J Cutan Pathol. 2000 Nov; 27(10):493-9.JC
Transepithelial elimination (TEE), a distinct and well-known entity, is a process during which the skin eradicates undesirable or irritative dermal substances through intact epidermis or follicular epithelium by passive or active means. Although TEE is being described in an increasing number and range of pathological processes, to date, TEE of granuloma inguinale (GI) remains unrecorded in the English-language literature. The aims of this study were: 1) To appraise the light microscopic and ultrastructural morphological epidermal changes that are associated with TEE of cutaneous vulval GI; and 2) To determine the role of intra-epidermal leucocytes and histiocytes in the pathogenesis of TEE of vulval GI.
This is a retrospective 9-year histopathological review of all cases diagnosed and coded as vulval granuloma inguinale in the Department of Anatomical Pathology, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa. Ultrastructural evaluation was performed on selected cases using a Jeol transmission electron microscope.
Of 53 skin biopsies from 47 patients with vulval GI, 43 were suitable for the study. The age range of patients was 15-40 years (mean age=22 years). There were eleven papular, twelve nodular, seven verrucous and thirteen ulcerative lesions. Donovan bodies within macrophages, free-lying Donovan bodies and dense aggregates of neutrophils and plasma cells were seen in the dermis of all biopsies. There was consistent overlying pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia. The dermal inflammatory infiltrate hugged the dermo-epidermal junction and appeared entrapped between elongated and acanthotic epidermal rete ridges and pegs. Transepidermal neutrophil microabscesses, histiocytes containing Donovan bodies and neutrophilic and histiocytic fragmentation were present. A variable number of free-lying and intra-histiocytic Donovan bodies and neutrophils were present on the surface of the epidermis. On ultrastructural investigation epidermal spongiosis, intracellular oedema, free-lying, intra-neutrophilic and intra-histiocytic Donovan bodies, and intact and degenerating neutrophils and histiocytes were evident between keratinocytes. The degenerative histiocytes demonstrated marked vacuolation, mitochondrial swelling and bacilli within phagolysosomal vacuoles, bound by intact or disrupted limiting membranes.
The inflammatory infiltrate at the epitheliomesenchymal interface, pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia, intra-epidermal accumulation and disintegration of neutrophils and histiocytes, and the associated release of lytic enzymes, play important contributory roles in TEE of GI. TEE of infectious agents is a poorly recognised mechanism of spread of infectious diseases and represents a public health hazard. In cutaneous vulval GI, TEE is highlighted as a hitherto unrecognised, potential method of spread of Calymmatobacterium granulomatis.