Ion channels expression and function are strongly modified in solid tumors and vascular malformations

Antonella Biasiotta, Daniela D'Arcangelo, Francesca Passarelli, Ezio Maria Nicodemi, Antonio Facchiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Several cellular functions relate to ion-channels activity. Physiologically relevant chains of events leading to angiogenesis, cell cycle and different forms of cell death, require transmembrane voltage control. We hypothesized that the unordered angiogenesis occurring in solid cancers and vascular malformations might associate, at least in part, to ion-transport alteration. Methods: The expression level of several ion-channels was analyzed in human solid tumor biopsies. Expression of 90 genes coding for ion-channels related proteins was investigated within the Oncomine database, in 25 independent patients-datasets referring to five histologically-different solid tumors (namely, bladder cancer, glioblastoma, melanoma, breast invasive-ductal cancer, lung carcinoma), in a total of 3673 patients (674 control-samples and 2999 cancer-samples). Furthermore, the ion-channel activity was directly assessed by measuring in vivo the electrical sympathetic skin responses (SSR) on the skin of 14 patients affected by the flat port-wine stains vascular malformation, i.e., a non-tumor vascular malformation clinical model. Results: Several ion-channels showed significantly increased expression in tumors (p < 0.0005); nine genes (namely, CACNA1D, FXYD3, FXYD5, HTR3A, KCNE3, KCNE4, KCNN4, CLIC1, TRPM3) showed such significant modification in at least half of datasets investigated for each cancer type. Moreover, in vivo analyses in flat port-wine stains patients showed a significantly reduced SSR in the affected skin as compared to the contralateral healthy skin (p < 0.05), in both latency and amplitude measurements. Conclusions: All together these data identify ion-channel genes showing significantly modified expression in different tumors and cancer-vessels, and indicate a relevant electrophysiological alteration in human vascular malformations. Such data suggest a possible role and a potential diagnostic application of the ion-electron transport in vascular disorders underlying tumor neo-angiogenesis and vascular malformations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number285
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 4 2016


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Cancer
  • Flat port-wine stains
  • Ion-channels
  • SSR
  • Sympathetic skin response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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