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Hum Pathol. 1999 May;30(5):562-7.

Progression-related expression of beta3 integrin in melanomas and nevi.

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Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Wistar Institute, USA.


The expression of the beta3 integrin subunit was investigated in 130 fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens of human melanomas and nevi using two different monoclonal antibodies. Expression was not observed in melanocytes and was absent or low in most nevi. In primary melanomas, expression was absent or low in the nontumorigenic radial growth phase, which includes the classes of in situ and microinvasive melanomas. In contrast, expression was high in the tumorigenic or vertical growth phase compartment of many primary melanomas and in most metastatic melanomas. Expression patterns were similar with the two antibodies, SSA6 and SAP, and was membrane-related as well as cytoplasmically expressed. In those nevi that reacted focally, the reactivity tended to occur in the dermal component of neurotized nevi, and in Spitz nevi, where the reactivity was stronger and more diffuse. A few dysplastic nevi showed focal reactivity of the junctional component. These results are consistent with tumor progression-related expression of the beta3 integrin, which is expressed in melanocytic tumors as the alphavbeta3 integrin, having affinity for matrix molecules, including vitronectin and fibronectin. In all melanomas, and in the subset of tumorigenic vertical growth phase melanomas, expression increased with thickness (P < .01). For this reason, and because ligation of this integrin has been shown in vitro to have several properties that may be related to the malignant phenotype, it is likely that expression of this marker may have prognostic value. However, because of its consistent and strong expression in Spitz nevi, the diagnostic utility of this marker will likely be limited.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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