Morphologic and elemental analysis of primary melanosis of the dentate nucleus: Review and correlation with neuromelanin

Richard T. Hopley, Edward Haller, Mumtaz V. Rojiani, Amyn M. Rojiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Primary melanosis of the dentate nucleus is a rarely described entity with neither known cause nor definitive clinicopathologic correlation. We revisit this previously reported phenomenon by presenting one such case with a review of the pathology as well as additional investigations including elemental analysis by energydispersive X-ray, immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy. The lesion presented macroscopically as a sharply defined, black pigmentation that was restricted to the dentate nucleus of the cerebellum. Other deep nuclei were uninvolved. Similarly, other areas of the cerebellum, brainstem, and supratentorial regions were macroscopically free of pigment. Microscopically, however, the pigment was noted to be present, albeit in microscopic deposits, within layers of the cerebellar cortex. Additionally, immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy defined an intracellular component within astrocytes. X-ray analysis of the pigment showed it to consist almost entirely of sulfur, an element known to be prominent in neuromelanin. This report also describes an association of the pigment with astrocytes by ultrastructural examination. We discuss the results of our findings in the context of etiopathogenetic considerations, seeking to gain a better understanding of this abnormal pigmentation and its relationship to neuromelanin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-956
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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