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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Long-lasting "christmas tree rash" in an adolescent: isotopic response of indeterminate cell histiocytosis in pityriasis rosea?

A 13-year-old girl developed a non-pruritic pityriasis rosea-like rash, which did not respond to topical corticosteroids or UV therapy but persisted for 2 years. The lymphohistiocytic infiltrate in the upper dermis showed mononuclear cells immunoreactive with S100, CD68, factor XIIIa and CD1a. Electron microscopic evaluation of these cells demonstrated lamellated dense bodies but no Birbeck granules, lipid vacuoles or cholesterol crystals. Two diagnoses were made: a primarily clinical diagnosis of generalized eruptive histiocytosis and a more cell-biology-based diagnosis of an indeterminate cell histiocytosis. Three years later, the lesions are showing spontaneous resolution, with loss of erythema and flattening. Our patient's indeterminate cells fulfil Rowden's classical definition (dendritically shaped epidermal non-keratinocytes without identifying cytoplasmic features), as well as Zelger's newer definition (cells with features of both macrophages and dendritic cells). A Christmas tree pattern has not been previously described in indeterminate cell histiocytosis. Development of indeterminate cell histiocytosis in the lesions of a healing pityriasis rosea might explain the unusual distribution pattern. The development of a skin disorder at the site of an unrelated, already healed skin disease is known as an isotopic response. Key[1]


  1. Long-lasting "christmas tree rash" in an adolescent: isotopic response of indeterminate cell histiocytosis in pityriasis rosea? Wollenberg, A., Burgdorf, W.H., Schaller, M., Sander, C. Acta Derm. Venereol. (2002) [Pubmed]
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