The reactivity in an avidin-biotin complex immunoperoxidase reaction with a large panel of anti-human melanoma associated antigen (MAA) and anti-HLA monoclonal antibodies of 24 primary and 11 metastatic acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) lesions was compared to that of 12 primary and 12 metastatic nodular melanoma (NM) lesions. The expression of the membrane bound vitronectin receptor, Mr 110,000 MAA, Mr 97,000 MAA, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 was significantly lower in both primary and metastatic ALM lesions than in their NM counterparts. Furthermore, primary ALM lesions displayed a significantly lower expression than primary NM lesions of the membrane bound high molecular weight melanoma associated antigen (HMW-MAA), Mr 110,000 MAA, Mr 100,000 MAA, 9-O-acetyl-GD3, GD2-GD3, and GD2, of the cytoplasmic monoclonal antibody 465.12 defined MAA and of transferrin receptor and of HLA-DQ and DP antigens; ALM metastases expressed a significantly lower level of carcinoembryonic antigen-MAA than NM metastases. These antigenic differences do not reflect an antigenic paucity of ALM cells, since ALM lesions express a higher level of T4-tyrosinase than NM lesions and a level of HLA Class I antigens similar to that of NM lesions.

In view of the use of HMW-MAA, Mr 97,000 MAA, and GD3 in immunoscintigraphy and/or in immunotherapy, it is noteworthy that the three antigens are expressed in a similar high percentage of ALM metastases and of primary and metastatic NM lesions, while the HMW-MAA is expressed in a markedly lower percentage of primary ALM lesions than Mr 97,000 MAA and GD3. However, the degree of heterogeneity of HMW-MAA within a positive primary ALM lesion, as measured by the percentage of stained melanoma cells, is lower than that of Mr 97,000 MAA and GD3.

The expression of the antigens investigated in ALM and NM lesions was not correlated with the presence of lymphocyte infiltrates, melanin content of melanoma cells, and epithelioid and spindle type of melanoma cells in the lesions. On the other hand, the survival of patients with ALM was inversely correlated with the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 or HMW-MAA in their primary lesions. A potential role of HMW-MAA in the course of the disease is suggested by its significantly higher expression in metastatic than in primary ALM lesions. Since the expression of HMW-MAA in primary ALM lesions is not associated with known prognostic parameters, the present study suggests that expression of HMW-MAA may be an additional prognostic parameter in ALM, if the present results are confirmed in a large patient population.


This work was supported by NIH Grants AI21384, CA37959, and CA39559.

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