Myofibroblast phagocytic cutaneous mucinosis: phagocytosis of mucinous substances by myofibroblasts in a distinctive cutaneous mucinosis: A case report

Takeo Nakaya, Koji Kamiya, Michio Nakaya, Kentaro Tsuji, Toshiro Niki, Mamitaro Ohtsuki, Akira Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale:Phagocytosis is an important physiological process for eliminating unnecessary substances or dead cells after tissue damage, such as inflammation or infarction. Phagocytosis was previously considered to be mainly performed by professional phagocytotic cells, such as macrophages. In contrast, we previously demonstrated that the phagocytosis of dead cells and unnecessary substances by myofibroblasts is as important as that by professional phagocytotic cells in myocardial infarction. Based on our discovery, we speculated that phagocytosis by myofibroblasts may be a more common pathological phenomenon also in other diseases than previously believed.Patient concerns:A 44-year-old male patient with atopic dermatitis developed a cutaneous reddish nodule with an underlying induration on his thigh.Interventions:The cutaneous lesion was surgically removed.Diagnoses:Histopathological examination demonstrated that the cutaneous lesion had solid infiltration by inflammatory cells, namely, plasma cells, histiocytes, and lymphocytes, in the dermis. The cutaneous lesion included mucinosis in the dermis. Inside the mucinosis, we detected cells with clear areas of mucinous substances. Some of the cells were α-smooth muscle actin-positive myofibroblasts. Electron microscopic images demonstrated that there were collagen bands in the cells with mucinous engulfment. Based on these pieces of evidence, we conclude that these mucinous phagocytotic cells were myofibroblasts, not professional phagocytotic cells, such as macrophages.Outcomes:There was no recurrence of the lesion.Lessons:The clinical appearance of this case resembled that of previously reported solitary cutaneous focal mucinoses. However, our case had distinctive characteristics, such as the phagocytosis of mucinous substances by myofibroblasts, multiple mucinous lesions in a single eruption, and the presence of inflammatory cells, which have not been previously reported. For this distinct cutaneous lesion, a clear dermatological and pathological name has yet to be determined. We propose "myofibroblast phagocytic cutaneous mucinosis" as a candidate name. In addition, our discoveries suggest that phagocytosis by myofibroblasts is not rare but rather is a common pathological phenomenon that has been undetected or unrecognized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E20867
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - Jul 17 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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