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J Invest Dermatol. 1992 Aug;99(2):168-73.

Increasing epidermal growth factor receptor expression in human melanocytic tumor progression.

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Department of Pathology, University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Different results have been reported on the expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in human melanocytic lesions, which may be due to different methodologic approaches. Therefore, we compared EGFR expression in six human melanoma cell lines by utilizing the monoclonal antibodies 2E9, 425, and 225, applying four immunocytochemical staining procedures. The results were compared with those obtained by a multiple point ligand binding assay. In addition, Northern blot analysis was performed. A three-step immunoperoxidase method using the monoclonal antibody 2E9 proved most sensitive. Staining intensities, estimated semiquantitatively, correlated well with the quantitative data obtained by the ligand-binding assay. Expression on the mRNA level was also in agreement with these results. Immunohistochemical staining of a large series of human cutaneous melanocytic lesions using the method selected showed differential EGFR expression in various stages of melanocytic tumor progression: 19% of common nevocellular nevi; 61% of dysplastic nevi, 89% of primary cutaneous melanomas, and 91% of melanoma metastases showed staining of the melanocytic cells. Intralesional heterogeneity of EGFR expression was present. Although the mean percentage of positive melanocytic cells in positive lesions did not increase with progression, mean staining intensity was stronger in malignant lesions compared to benign lesions. Ligand binding assays showed that EGFR expression in the highly metastasizing cell lines MV3 and BLM was at least 40 times higher than in the cell lines IF6, 530, M14, and Mel57, which do not or only sporadically metastasize after subcutaneous inoculation in nude mice. Although the differences between the various stages of progression are not absolute, we provide further evidence that EGFR expression increases in human melanocytic tumor progression.

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