Vascularization of cutaneous melanoma involves vessel co-option and has clinical significance

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This study was undertaken to determine the role and the fate of the peritumoural vascular plexus during the vascularization of human malignant melanoma (hMM) and in an appropriate murine melanoma model system. The prognostic significance of the vascularity of different tumour areas was also evaluated. Despite morphometry revealing several-fold higher microvessel densities (MVDs) in the peritumoural tissue than at the centre of the tumour, the development of visceral metastases of hMM was exclusively correlated with the MVD of the tumour centre. Furthermore, the 5-year survival of the patient group with low tumour centre MVD (<30/mm2, n = 29) was 100%, compared to 1/16 patients alive with high tumour centre MVD (>30/mm2, n = 16). Morphometric analysis and three-dimensional reconstruction of vessel networks of both human and murine melanomas showed clearly that the peritumoural vascular plexus present at the melanoma base is continuously being incorporated into the growing tumour mass. Once vessels become incorporated, sprouting ceases and the proliferating endothelial cells (EC) take part only in vessel dilatation. Moreover, the immunohistochemical and ultrastructural characterization of microvessels demonstrated that the pericyte coverage of endothelial tubes was complete in all of the investigated areas, in both human and murine melanomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-362
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 27 2002



  • Intratumoral vessels
  • Melanoma
  • Prognosis
  • Vessel incorporation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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