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Prognostic relevance of P-cadherin expression in melanocytic skin tumours analysed by high-throughput tissue microarrays
  1. R Bauer1,
  2. P J Wild1,
  3. S Meyer2,
  4. F Bataille1,
  5. A Pauer3,
  6. M Klinkhammer-Schalke3,
  7. F Hofstaedter1,
  8. A K Bosserhoff1
  1. 1Institute of Pathology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany
  2. 2Department of Dermatology, University of Regensburg
  3. 3Central Tumor Registry, Regensburg
  1. Correspondence to:
 Anja K Bosserhoff
 Institute of Pathology, University of Regensburg, Franz-Josef-Strauss-Allee 11, D-93053 Regensburg, Germany; anja.bosserhoff{at}


Aim: To investigate whether protein expression or cellular localisation of P-cadherin is associated with clinicopathological characteristics in benign and malignant melanocytic skin tumours.

Experimental design: P-cadherin expression and the Ki-67 labelling index were analysed immunohistochemically by using tissue microarrays (TMAs). Membranous and cytoplasmic expression was scored semiquantitatively (0 to 2+).

Results: P-cadherin protein expression of any intensity (1+ to 2+) was detected in the membrane in 41.5% (132/318) and in the cytoplasm in 64.2% (204/318) of patients. In general, P-cadherin expression was significantly reduced in malignant melanomas (p<0.001) and melanoma metastases (p<0.001), compared with benign nevi. Additionally, loss of membranous P-cadherin was associated with Clark level (p = 0.011) and tumour thickness (p<0.001). Interestingly, a significantly lower P-cadherin expression was shown by dermal nevi than by compound and junctional nevi (p = 0.005; p = 0.025). In primary melanomas, a Ki-67 labelling index <5% was not associated with P-cadherin protein expression, suggesting that loss of P-cadherin expression was not associated with proliferation. None of the other clinical and histological factors analysed was significantly related to P-cadherin expression. Low cytoplasmic P-cadherin expression was associated with tumour recurrence (p = 0.03) in all the patients who were analysed. After testing various multivariate Cox regression models, loss of cytoplasmic P-cadherin expression remained a highly significant adverse risk factor for tumour recurrence in patients with tumours <2 mm.

Conclusions: Loss of cytoplasmic P-cadherin expression is common in advanced melanomas and can be a prognostic marker of progression in patients with melanoma, most useful in patients with primary tumours <2 mm in thickness.

  • IHC, immunohistochemistry
  • RFS, recurrence-free survival
  • TMA, tissue microarray

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  • Published Online First 24 March 2006

  • RB and PJW contributed equally.