An image analysis of the spatial distribution of perivascular mast cells in human melanoma

Diego Guidolin, Enrico Crivellato, Beatrice Nico, Paola G. Andreis, Gastone G. Nussdorfer, Domenico Ribatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A mutual spatial and functional relationship occurs between mast cells (MCs) and endothelial cells and the density of MCs is highly correlated with the extent of tumor angiogenesis. The aim of this study was to investigate the pattern of MCs around the blood vessels in melanoma samples by means of an approach derived from spatial statistics, based on the analysis of the distribution of the distances of MCs from vessels to objectively establish if the two structures (MCs and vessels) are distributed independently over the studied area or if they displayed any kind of spatial association. Results showed that a higher number of vessels and MCs can be observed in melanoma as compared with samples from common acquired nevi (control group). The percent of area covered by vessel profiles was significantly higher in the melanoma group than the control group and the MC density was also significantly different; the melanoma group showing a number of MCs per unit area twice as high as the number measured in the control group. Furthermore, in the melanoma group, MCs were closer to each other and to the vessels. In fact, both the mean distance from vessels and the mean distance from the nearest cell profile were significantly lower than in the control group. This close association between MCs and the endothelium does not necessarily imply a participation of MCs in angiogenic processes, but might rather indicate that MCs are involved in the maintenance reaction necessary for the long lasting functional integrity of the endothelium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)981-987
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


  • Angiogenesis
  • Image analysis
  • Mast cells
  • Melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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