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Growth control of melanoma cells and melanocytes by cytokines.

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Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Steglitz, Free University of Berlin, Germany.


Aberrant proliferation of tumor cells characterizes cancer growth. Investigations of cellular growth control mechanisms have contributed to our understanding of carcinogenesis and to the identification of compounds with specific antitumor activity. Many cytokines have been found to act on melanoma tumors, either produced by the tumor cells themselves or by infiltrating host cells. Purified cytokines allowed direct comparison of the growth response between normal human melanocytes and malignant melanoma cells. The present paper summarizes results of a series of our own experiments not yet published and data from a review of the recent literature. Proliferation of normal human melanocytes is enhanced by several cytokines, including basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), melanoma growth stimulatory activity (MGSA), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), and mast cell growth factor (MGF). Melanoma cells are additionally stimulated by epidermal growth factor (EGF)/transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha) and nerve growth factor (NGF). Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1), and interleukin (IL)-6 are all potent inhibitors of melanocyte growth, but they are less effective on melanoma cells or even stimulate their growth. Interferon (IFN)-alpha and IFN-gamma inhibited proliferation of melanoma cells but not of melanocytes, whereas IFN-beta showed antiproliferative effects in both cell types. These findings suggest an alteration in growth control mechanisms during melanocyte transformation and possibly play a role in melanoma pathogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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