Stem cell properties in cell cultures from different stage of melanoma progression

Cristina Magnoni, Stefania Giudice, Giovanni Pellacani, Giorgia Bertazzoni, Caterina Longo, Eugenia Veratti, Daria Morini, Luisa Benassi, Cristina Vaschieri, Paola Azzoni, Anto De Pol, Stefania Seidenari, Aldo Tomasi, Annamaria Pollio, Giovanni Ponti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cutaneous melanoma is an extremely heterogenous human cancer. The most aggressive melanoma may contain deregulated cells with undifferentiated/stem cell-like phenotype. A critical mechanism by which melanoma cells enhance their invasive capacity is the dissolution of the intercellular adhesion and the acquisition of mesenchymal features as a part of an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. The aim of this study was to clarify the role of a stem cell-like population in human melanomas by means of melanocytic cell culture analysis obtained from distinct histotypes of primary and metastatic malignant melanoma. Patients with advanced melanoma >2 cm in diameter and/or >300 mm surface were enrolled. The melanoma cells were isolated from skin biopsies of lentigo maligna melanoma, superficial spreading melanoma, nodular melanoma, and metastatic melanoma. The colony forming unit assay and alkaline phosphatase stain were evaluated. Cells were subsequently cultured and maintained in different media to evaluate their ability to differentiate into osteogenic and adipogenic lineages. Immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry analysis were performed to evaluate antigenic markers CD90, CD73, CD105, CD146, CD20, CD166, and Nestin. This study confirms that melanoma can include heterogenous cell populations with the ability both to self-renew and to a give rise to differentiated progeny. Melanoma cells displayed intratumoral heterogeneity and dynamic antigen phenotypes. Histologically, transitions from normal skin to melanoma were associated with a gradual increase in the expression of CD146, CD20, CD133, Nestin, and CD73. These molecular profiles could be further analyzed and, in the future, used for the development of novel biomolecular targeted-therapy approaches.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - May 22 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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