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Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2006 Jan-Mar;19(1):171-9.

Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes in uveal melanoma: a link with clinical behavior?

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Department of Biomorphological and Functional Sciences, Pathology Section, University of Naples Federico II, Via A. Falcone 56, 80127 Naples, Italy.


Experimental and clinical evidence indicate that immunological mechanisms might be important in the clinical course of uveal malignant melanoma (UMM). We analyzed the amount and phenotype of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) and the expression of the apoptosis-inducing molecule Fas and its ligand, FasL, on tumor cells and TIL in a selected series of UMM with the aim to establish if a correlation between their expression and the clinical behavior of UMM exists. TIL phenotype and Fas/FasL expression were evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 61 cases of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded UMM. Results were compared with the follow-up data of patients. Most of the UMM showed a prevalence of CD8+ CD3+ T lymphocytes, or CD4+ and CD8+ cells in equal amounts. UMM showed a variable expression of FasL, ranging from 0 to > 40% of neoplastic cells. Fas was always expressed in TIL, although with a variable extent. A subgroup of UMM showed in TIL a strongly reduced or even absent expression of TCR zeta-chain, involved in activation of T-lymphocytes. This subgroup was characterized by a worse outcome. We hypothesized that an impaired cytotoxic immune response due to the loss of the zeta-chain expression plays a primary role in the biological course of UMM. Our results indicate that the overcoming of the impairment of TCR function may represent a prerequisite for the development of new therapeutic strategies for managing UMM, suggesting that elimination of tumor cells may be possible by activation of cytotoxic cells present within ocular melanomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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