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Panminerva Medica 2001 June;43(2):109-13


lingua: Inglese

Clinical significance of the molecular detection of melanoma cells circulating in the peripheral blood in melanoma patients

Konstantopoulos K., Psatha M., Kalotychou V., Frangia N. *, Ioannovits I. *, Meletis I., Loukopoulos D.

From the University of Athens School of Medicine, First Department of Medicine, Laikon Hospital, Athens, Greece and *Department of Plastic Surgery, Athens General Public Hospital, Athens, Greece


Background. Blood cir­cu­lat­ing mel­a­no­ma ­cells may be impor­tant for the ­spread of the dis­ease. The cur­rent meth­ods are not sen­si­tive in detect­ing ­micro metas­ta­ses. Tyrosinase mRNA can be detect­ed in periph­er­al ­blood by a molec­u­lar ­test. As tyros­i­nase is ­expressed ­only in mel­a­noc­y­tes and mel­a­noc­y­tes nor­mal­ly do not cir­cu­late in the ­blood, the ­test may ­prove reli­able in detect­ing cir­cu­lat­ing mel­a­no­ma ­cells.
Methods. Experimental ­design: we ­used a ­reverse-tran­scrip­tion poly­me­rase ­chain reac­tion (RT-PCR) detect­ing tyros­i­nase mRNA in the ­blood. A pros­pec­tive inves­ti­ga­tion in mel­a­no­ma ­patients under­go­ing sur­gery was con­duct­ed; fol­low-up dura­tion was 12 ­months. Setting: University Department Laboratory and Melanoma Clinic of a Tertiary Hospital. Patients: a ­total of 27 Greek ­patients ­with a diag­no­sis of malig­nant mel­a­no­ma at dif­fer­ent stag­es of the dis­ease; 12 ­months fol­low-up ­after sur­gery. Samples ­form 12 ­healthy vol­un­teers and 13 ­patients ­with chron­ic mye­log­e­nous leu­ke­mia ­served as con­trols. Interventions: ­none. Measures: ­none.
Results. We detect­ed mRNA tyros­i­nase in the periph­er­al ­blood in 16 out of 27 mel­a­no­ma ­patients stud­ied. No tyros­i­nase mRNA was detect­ed in any of the 25 sam­ples ­from the con­trols. Two of the 16 pos­i­tive cas­es devel­oped a metas­ta­sis with­in the ­next 12 ­months fol­low­ing test­ing. The oth­er 14 pos­i­tive cas­es ­remain metas­ta­sis ­free for ­this peri­od, as ­also did the ­test neg­a­tive cas­es.
Conclusions. Detection of ­blood cir­cu­lat­ing mel­a­no­ma ­cells by a RT-PCR tech­nique, may be help­ful in defin­ing mel­a­no­ma ­patients who are at ­risk for the ­spread of the dis­ease.

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