Melanoma-Associated Hypopigmentation: Where Are the Antibodies?

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Antibodies to the B16 melanoma cell line and to tyrosinase have been recently defined in our laboratory in sera of patients with vitiligo, melanoma, melanoma-associated hypopigmentation (MAH), and in healthy subjects. The antibody titers in each subject were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, were compared with the mean optical density (OD) of the control group, and were expressed as relative OD. The titers of anti-B16 antibodies (relative OD ± standard error) were 1.000 (0.058) in the controls, 1.025 (0.077) in patients with metastatic melanoma, 0.5862 (0.15) in MAH, 1.377 in surgery-induced MAH, 1.087 in vaccination with anti-idiotypic antibodies, and 2.098 (0.15) in autoimmune vitiligo. The titers in vitiligo were significantly higher (p < 0.0001) than in MAH or in healthy controls. Antityrosinase antibodies were found in titers of 1.000 (0.1024) in the controls, 1.516 (0.225) in metastatic melanoma, 1.027 (0.180) in MAH, 1.075 in surgery-induced MAH, 2.308 in vaccination-induced MAH, and 4.536 in vitiligo. Differences were found between vitiligo and MAH (p = 0.008), surgery-induced MAH (p = 0.009), vaccination-induced MAH (p = 0.059), and healthy subjects (p < 0.0001). The results of this study point to the cross-antigenicity between melanocytes and melanoma cells, and to participation of antibodies against melanoma-associated membrane antigens in the mechanism leading to the development of MAH in patients with melanoma.

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