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Melanoma Res. 2006 Oct;16(5):453-7.

Proliferating endothelial cells, but not microvessel density, are a prognostic parameter in human cutaneous melanoma.

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Angiogenesis Laboratory, Research Institute for Growth and Development (GROW), Department of Pathology, University Hospital Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


The induction of angiogenesis is crucial in the development of most human tumors. Angiogenesis is routinely assessed by the density of tumor microvessels. This technique reveals controversial results on the clinical and prognostic value of angiogenesis in melanoma. We investigated angiogenesis in tumor tissues of 58 cutaneous melanoma patients, of which a clinical follow-up of over 10 years was available, through assessment of microvessel density and by enumeration of the number of proliferating endothelial cells. To that end, vessels were immunohistochemically detected by CD31/CD34 staining, and proliferating endothelial cells were enumerated in a double staining with the proliferation marker Ki67. We found that microvessel density did not correlate with tumor stage or survival, neither in intratumoral nor in peritumoral areas. In contrast, proliferating endothelial cells were only observed in intratumoral areas and were correlated positively with tumor stage and the presence of distant metastases. In addition, a strong positive correlation was found with the number of proliferating tumor cells. Finally, high numbers of growing endothelial cells predicted short survival. Our results show that angiogenesis could best be measured by enumeration of proliferating endothelial cells and that this parameter has prognostic value in patients with cutaneous melanoma.

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