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J Clin Oncol. 2005 Mar 1;23(7):1473-82.

Prognostic significance of activated Akt expression in melanoma: a clinicopathologic study of 292 cases.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



Akt is a serine/threonine kinase that leads to stimulation of cell cycle progression, cell proliferation, and inhibition of apoptosis. To investigate the role of Akt in melanoma pathogenesis, we examined the expression of phospho-Akt (p-Akt; Ser-473) in melanocytic lesions at different stages and analyzed the correlations between the p-Akt expression level and clinicopathologic factors and patient survival.


We evaluated the p-Akt expression in 12 cases of normal nevi, 58 cases of dysplastic nevi, 170 cases of primary melanomas, and 52 cases of melanoma metastases using tissue microarray and immunohistochemistry.


Strong p-Akt expression was observed in 17%, 43%, 49%, and 77% of the biopsies in normal nevi, dysplastic nevi, primary melanoma, and melanoma metastases, respectively. Significant differences for p-Akt staining pattern were observed between normal nevi and primary melanomas (P < .05), and between primary melanomas and melanoma metastases (P < .001). Furthermore, our Kaplan-Meier survival curves showed that strong p-Akt expression is inversely correlated with both overall and disease-specific 5-year survival of patients with primary melanoma (P < .05 for both). Strikingly, our multivariate Cox regression analysis revealed that p-Akt is an independent prognostic factor in low-risk melanomas (thickness < or = 1.5 mm; relative risk, 6.44; 95% CI, 1.28 to 32.55; P = .018).


The expression of p-Akt increases dramatically with melanoma invasion and progression and is inversely correlated with patient survival. In addition, p-Akt may serve as an independent prognostic marker and help to identify those patients with low-risk melanomas who are at increased risk of death.

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