The association of residential altitude on the molecular profile and survival of melanoma: Results of an interreg study

Eleonora De Martino, Davide Brunetti, Vincenzo Canzonieri, Claudio Conforti, Klaus Eisendle, Guido Mazzoleni, Carla Nobile, Federica Rao, Johannes Zschocke, Emina Jukic, Wolfram Jaschke, Georg Weinlich, Bernhard Zelger, Matthias Schmuth, Giorgio Stanta, Fabrizio Zanconati, Iris Zalaudek, Serena Bonin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cutaneous melanoma (CM) incidence is rising worldwide and is the primary cause of death from skin disease in the Western world. Personal risk factors linked to environmental ultraviolet radiation (UVR) are well-known etiological factors contributing to its development. Nevertheless, UVR can contribute to the development of CM in different patterns and to varying degrees. The present study aimed at investigating whether altitude of residence can contribute to the development of specific types of CM and/or influence its progression. To this aim, 306 formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues from primary CM diagnosed in different geographical areas were submitted to B-RAF proto-oncogene serine/threonine kinase (BRAF) and N-RAS proto-oncogene GTPase (NRAS) mutational status detection and mRNA and miRNA profiling by qPCR. Genes were chosen for their functions in specific processes, such as immune response (CD2, PDL1, or CD274) and pigmentation (MITF, TYRP1, and TRPM1). Furthermore, four microRNAs, namely miR-150-5p, miR-155-5p, miR-204-5p, and miR-211-5p, were included in the profiling. Our results highlight differences in the gene expression profile of primary CM with respect to the geographical area and the altitude of residence. Melanoma-specific survival was influenced by the gene expression of mRNA and miRNAs and varied with the altitude of patients’ residence. In detail, TYRP1 and miR-204-5p were highly expressed in patients living at higher altitudes, unlike miR-150-5p, miR-155-5p, and miR-211-5p. Since miRNAs are highly regulated by reactive oxygen species, it is possible that different regulatory mechanisms characterize CMs at different altitudes due to the different environment and UVR intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2796
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Altitude
  • Cutaneous melanoma
  • MiRNA
  • Molecular profiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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