Content » Vol 100, 100-year theme: Genodermatoses (March)


An Early Description of a “Human Mosaic” Involving the Skin: A Story from 1945

Rudolf Happle
DOI: 10.2340/00015555-3426


In 1945, the Journal of Heredity published an impressive article entitled “A human mosaic: bilaterally asymmetrical noevus pigmentosus pilosus et mollusciformis unilateralis.” The author was M. Zlotnikoff, a Russian physician working in Ivanovo, a city located approximately 250 km northeast of Moscow. Zlotnikoff described a 24-year-old woman with a congenital linear epidermal naevus in a systematized and strictly unilateral arrangement. For the first time, the author explained this disorder as a mosaic resulting from a somatic mutation that occurred at an early stage of embryonic development. However, because this article was published immediately after the war, it fell into oblivion, despite the fact that it was of utmost importance in clinical dermatology. Zlotnikoff’s work is all the more remarkable as the author had never heard of the lines of Blaschko.


In 1945, M. Zlotnikoff from Ivanovo, former Soviet Union, documented a unilateral systematized epidermal naevus in an adult woman. Without knowing about the lines of Blaschko, Zlotnikoff precisely described a Blaschko-linear cutaneous pattern. He explained this epidermal naevus as a biological mosaic resulting from an early postzygotic new mutation. However, because Zlotnikoff’s manuscript was published immediately after the war, it remained unnoticed. During the second half of the past century, Blaschko’s lines were “rediscovered” in dermatology. Today, it should be known that Zlotnikoff was an important forerunner in research on mosaicism and Blaschko’s lines in human skin.

Supplementary content


Not logged in! You need to login/create an account to comment on articles. Click here to login/create an account.