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Clin Exp Metastasis. 2014 Jan 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Surface antigen profiles of leukocytes and melanoma cells in lymph node metastases are associated with survival in AJCC stage III melanoma patients.

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  • 1School of Molecular Bioscience, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia, kim.kaufman@sydney.edu.au.


There is an urgent need to identify more accurate prognostic biomarkers in melanoma patients, particularly in those with metastatic disease. This study aimed to identify melanoma and leukocyte surface antigens predictive of survival in a prospective series of AJCC stage IIIb/c melanoma patients (n = 29). Live cell suspensions were prepared from melanoma metastases within lymph nodes (LN). The suspensions were immuno-magnetically separated into CD45+ (leukocyte) and CD45- (non-hematopoietic, enriched melanoma cell) fractions. Surface antigens on CD45- and CD45+ cell populations were profiled using DotScan™ microarrays (Medsaic Pty. Ltd.) and showed differential abundance levels for 52 and 78 antigens respectively. Associations of the surface profiles with clinicopathologic and outcome data (median follow-up 35.4 months post LN resection) were sought using univariate (log-rank test) and multivariate (Wald's test; modelled with patient's age, gender and AJCC staging at LN recurrence) survival models. CD9 (p = 0.036), CD39 (p = 0.004) and CD55 (p = 0.005) on CD45+ leukocytes were independently associated with distant metastasis-free survival using multivariate analysis. Leukocytes with high CD39 levels were also significantly associated with increased overall survival (OS) in multivariate analysis (p = 0.016). LNs containing leukocytes expressing CD11b (p = 0.025), CD49d (p = 0.043) and CD79b (p = 0.044) were associated with reduced OS on univariate analysis. For enriched melanoma cells (CD45- cell populations), 11 surface antigens were significantly correlated with the disease-free interval (DFI) between diagnosis of culprit primary melanoma and LN metastasis resection. Nine antigens on CD45+ leukocytes also correlated with DFI. Following validation in independent datasets, surface markers identified here should enable more accurate determination of prognosis in stage III melanoma patients and provide better risk stratification of patients entering clinical trials.

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