BACKGROUND: Hyperkeratotic hand eczema (HHE) is a typical clinical hand eczema subtype with a largely unknown pathophysiology.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate histopathology, expression of keratins (K), epidermal barrier proteins, and adhesion molecules in HHE.
METHODS: Palmar skin biopsies (lesional and perilesional) were obtained from seven HHE patients and two healthy controls. Moreover, 135 candidate genes associated with palmoplantar keratoderma were screened for mutations.
RESULTS: Immunofluorescence staining showed a significant reduction of K9 and K14 in lesional skin. Upregulation was found for K5, K6, K16, and K17 in lesional skin compared with perilesional and healthy palmar skin. Further, upregulation of involucrin and alternating loricrin staining, both in an extracellular staining pattern, was found. Filaggrin expression was similar in lesional, perilesional, and control skin. No monogenetic mutations were found.
CONCLUSION: Currently, the phenotype of HHE is included in the hand eczema classification system; however, it can be argued whether this is justified. The evident expression of filaggrin and involucrin in lesional skin does not support a pathogenesis of atopic eczema. The upregulation of K6, K16, and K17 and reduction of K9 and K14 might contribute to the underlying pathogenesis. Unfortunately, comparison with hand eczema studies is not possible yet, because similar protein expression studies are lacking.