Department of Dermatology, Philipp University of Marburg, Deutschhaus-Str. 9, 35033 Marburg, Germany
Within the group of epidermal nevi, a so far nameless disorder is described under the term “linear Cowden nevus”. This non-organoid epidermal nevus is caused by loss of heterozygosity, occurring at an early developmental stage in an embryo with a germline PTEN mutation, giving rise to Cowden disease. Hence, linear Cowden nevus can be categorized as a characteristic feature of type 2 segmental Cowden disease. Until now, several authors had mistaken this epidermal nevus as a manifestation of Proteus syndrome. The concept of linear Cowden nevus implies that Proteus syndrome is by no means caused by PTEN mutations. As a clinical difference, linear Cowden nevus is markedly papillomatous and thick, whereas linear Proteus nevus tends to be rather flat. Moreover, the spectrum of possibly associated cutaneous or extracutaneous anomalies differs in the two types of nevi. In conclusion, linear Cowden nevus, that may also be called “linear PTEN nevus”, represents a distinct clinicogenetic entity.