Variations in the ganglioside profile of uveal melanoma correlate with cytologic heterogeneity.
Gangliosides may play an important role in the proliferation and spread of human malignant melanoma. Because the frequency of metastases in uveal and cutaneous melanoma differs, it is possible that they may express different gangliosides. We analyzed the ganglioside profiles of primary uveal melanoma in 14 cases and of cutaneous melanoma metastasis in 19 cases. In cutaneous melanoma, GM3 ranged from 4.2% to 74.6% and GD3 from 22.1% to 91.8% of total lipid-bound sialic acid. GM2 (found in 13 of 19 cases, ranging from 0.5% to 11.7%), GD2 (11/19, 0.5%-22.0%) and 9-O-acetyl-GD3 (13/19, 0.5%-12.6%) were also frequently observed. By contrast, in 11 cases of uveal melanoma, GM3 was > 90%, GD3 was < 10%, GM2 was < 1.1%; neither GD2 nor 9-O-acetyl-GD3 were detected. The ganglioside profiles of these uveal melanomas were virtually identical to those of normal melanocytes obtained from foreskins. Histological examination of these 11 biopsies showed a monomorphous cell composition, but neither infiltration of lymphocytes or melanophages nor cell necrosis was observed. In 3 other cases, GD3 was increased to 19.5%-46.0%. Histological examination of these 3 biopsy specimens showed at least 2 populations of tumor cells that were separable based on morphological grounds, and mononuclear inflammatory cells interspersed among the tumor cells. An increase in GD3 appears to be related to tumor polyclonality and infiltration of the tumor by lymphocytes and macrophages. These results suggest that ganglioside expression of uveal melanoma is associated with host immune responses to the tumor. Furthermore, the low metastatic capacity of uveal melanoma, in contrast to the high metastatic rate of cutaneous melanoma, may be a result of its differentiated ganglioside expression, which is strikingly similar to that of normal melanocytes.
Kanda, S; Cochran, AJ; Lee, WR; Morton, DL; Irie, RF
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