Acrokeratoelastoidosis of Costa: a primary disease of the elastic tissue?

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A 24-year-old black woman from Uganda was seen for treatment of multiple papules on her hands and feet. The lesions corresponded microscopically to foci of hyperkeratosis and acanthosis. Acid orcein stain revealed marked elastic fiber fragmentation. Acrokeratoelastoidosis of Costa (AKE) was diagnosed. The same damage to the elastic fibers was also present in an additional specimen from grossly uninvolved skin. On electron microscopy there were pronounced changes of the elastic fibers with elastolysis in both specimens. This case with generalized damage of the dermal elastic tissue supports the view that elastorrhexis is the key feature of AKE. Accordingly, the disease could be regarded as a primary elastic tissue disorder. The marginal acral keratoderma that is seen in AKE patients could represent epidermal changes secondary to chronic trauma.

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