Juvenile and adult xanthogranuloma: A 30-year single-center experience and review of the disorder and its relationship to other histiocytoses

Behzad Salari, Louis P. Dehner

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5 Scopus citations


Background: Juvenile xanthogranuloma (JXG) is the most common type of non-Langerhans cell histiocytosis whose cell of origin, etiology and pathogenesis are not fully understood. We aimed to provide an update on histopathologic and immunophenotypic profile of this well-characterized entity whose relationship to the other histiocytoses has received renewed attention in light of recent molecular genetic studies. Materials and methods: A retrospective review of all the cases with the pathologic diagnosis of “xanthogranuloma” was performed on our archives from 1989 to 2019. Results: A total of 525 patients with 547 lesions diagnosed as JXG were identified with the median age of 4.5 years, a male predominance (M:F ratio 1.3:1) and a predilection for the head and neck region (40.8%). Cutaneous lesions comprised 76.8% cases and another 15.7% presented within soft tissues. The most common non-soft tissue, extracutaneous lesions included the brain (2.6%), and lungs (1.8%). Three basic histopathologic patterns were identified: early classic (EJXG) (14.2%), classic (CJXG) (45.3%), and transitional JXG (TJXG) (40.5%). Multinucleated giant cells, either Touton or non-Touton, were most frequently present in CJXG followed by TJXG. Mitosis was rare (<1/10 high-power field) among different patterns. There was an association among the patterns and lymphocytic infiltrates (P = 0.036), and presence of Touton or non-Touton giant cells (P < 0.001 for both) but not for mitotic count (P = 0.105) or eosinophilic infiltrates (P = 0.465). Additionally, there was a correlation between age groups and presence of non-Touton giant cells (P = 0.012) but not for Touton cells (P = 0.127). We have demonstrated that immunophenotypic expression of the lesion was not associated with age at diagnosis nor morphologic pattern: factor XIIIa 192/204 (94.1%), CD11c 75/77 (97.4%), CD4 82/84 (97.6%), CD68 200/201 (99.5%), CD163 15/15 (100%), CD1a 1/110 (0.9%), S-100 48/152 (31.6%), CD31 15/21 (71.4%), and vimentin 104/105 (99.0%). Conclusion: We have documented in a substantial series of cases of JXG that there is a correlation between one of the three basic histopathologic patterns with age at diagnosis, but with a consistent immunophenotype among the three patterns. Considering sensitivity and specificity rates, we suggest that a combination of CD11c, CD4, CD1a and either CD163 (preferred) or CD68 stains provides more specific diagnostic yield in the differentiation of JXG from other histiocytic disorders. JXG is also discussed in terms of its relationship and distinction from other similar histiocytic disorders in the context of MAPK/ERK pathway mutations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number151940
JournalAnnals of Diagnostic Pathology
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • CD11c
  • Juvenile xanthogranuloma
  • Langerhans cell histiocytosis
  • non-Langerhans histiocytosis


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