Immunohistochemical sweat gland profiles

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Human sweat glands are heterogeneous in their structures and functions. Accordingly, eccrine, apocrine, and apoeccrine glands are distinguished.


Some immunohistochemical markers are expected to distinguish the sweat gland types in their secretory and excretory parts.


This study used two sets of antibodies. The first panel was composed of antibodies directed to well-defined sweat gland structures. The molecular targets included the low-molecular-weight cytokeratins CAM 5.2, the S100-B protein, the epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), and the lectin Ulex europaeus agglutinin-1 (UEA-1). A second exploratory panel of antibodies targeted syndecan-1 (CD138), NKI-C3 (CD63), and CD68. They were used to disclose some undescribed antigen expressions in human sweat glands.


The first set of antibodies confirmed previous findings. The immunoreactivities of the three sweat gland types were similar in the excretory ducts. By contrast, they were distinguished in the deeper coiled secretory portions of the glands.


Clues supporting their distinction and probably their functional activity were obtained by immunohistochemistry using the S100-B protein, CEA and CD63 antibodies. The immunoreactivity to the S100-B protein, CEA and CD63 possibly help identifying apoeccrine sweat glands or a peculiar functional activity of eccrine sweat glands.

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