Toker cell related to the folliculo-sebaceous-apocrine unit: a study of horizontal sections of the nipple

Vol. 49 No. 3, 2008


A. Fernandez-Flores

Aims: Since Toker cell (TC) was first described in 1970, many interpretations concerning their origin have been offered in literature. We tried to investigate the histology of Toker cells in horizontal sections of the nipple. Material and methods: We have studied horizontal sections of the nipple in 10 cases from mastectomy specimens due to ductal carcinoma. We used conventional Hematoxylin-Eosin stains, as well as immunohistochemical staining for cytokeratin 7 in each case. Immunostaining for EMA, CEA and S-100 were also used in the three cases in which TCs were more numerous. In three cases, we made serial sections of the nipple. Results: We evidenced TC in 80% of our cases in the immunohistochemical study. The three cases that were studied with additional antibodies showed a phenotype CEA-, S-100-. While one of the cases was EMA+, the other two were EMA-. Conclusions: The location of TCs, together with the findings in the cases that were seriated, suggests a physical relation between TCs and the sebaceous glands. This latter hypothesis would also explain the immunophenotype of TCs that has been widely studied in literature, and partially corroborated by the current study.

Corresponding author: Angel Fernandez-Flores, MD, PhD, e-mail:

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