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Anal Cell Pathol (Amst). 2011;34(3):123-30. doi: 10.3233/ACP-2011-0010.

Imatinib mesylate alters the expression of genes related to disease progression in an animal model of uveal melanoma.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Pathology, The McGill University Health Center & Henry C. Witelson Ocular Pathology Laboratory, Montreal, Canada.


Imatinib mesylate (IM) is a compound that inhibits both BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase and c-kit receptors. Tyrosine kinases are important in cellular signaling and mediate major cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, attachment, and migration. Twenty-six albino rabbits were injected with 1 × 10(6) human uveal melanoma (UM) cells (92.1) into the suprachoroidal space. Animals were immunosuppressed (cyclosporin A) over the course of the 12-week experiment and divided into two groups (n = 13). The experimental group received IM once daily by gavage while the control group received a placebo. One animal per group was sacrificed every week after the 2nd week. Upon necropsy, organs were harvested for histopathological examination. Cells from the primary tumors were recultured and tested in proliferation and invasion assays. A PCR array was used to investigate the differences in expression of 84 genes related to tumor metastasis. In the treated group, 4 rabbits developed intraocular tumors, with an average largest tumor dimension (LTD) of 2.5 mm and 5 animals reported metastatic disease. Whereas 6 rabbits in the control group developed intraocular tumors, with an average LTD of 5.8 mm and 6 animals reported metastatic disease. The recultured cells from the treated group demonstrated lower proliferation rates and were less invasive (p < 0.001). The PCR array showed differences in expression of genes related to metastasis. Notably, there was 290-fold increase in SERPINB5, a tumor suppressor gene, and a 10-fold higher expression of KISS1, a metastasis suppressor gene, in the treated group. Proangiogenic genes such as VEGFA, PDGFA and PDGFB were downregulated in the treated group. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report detailing the altered expression of specific genes in UM cells after treatment with IM.

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