Nucleolin protein expression in cutaneous melanocytic lesions

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Nucleolin is a major nucleolar argyrophilic protein involved in carcinogenesis. There are only few studies on its tissue expression in human cancer and none in melanoma. We aimed at exploring this protein and its prognostic impact in cutaneous melanocytic lesions.


We studied 193 cases including benign, dysplastic and malignant melanocytic lesions. Nuclear positivity was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and quantified by automated image analysis.


Most dysplastic and malignant lesions showed high percentages of cells with abnormal patterns of nuclear positivity (Abn+N) consisting in multiple, irregular, positive dots (ID+) and a coarse, irregularly positive nucleoplasm (CNpl+) or both (ID+CNpl+). The patterns CNpl+ and/or ID+CNpl+ were never observed in benign lesions, in which ID+ were also virtually absent. Abn+N% was significantly lower in dysplastic nevi than in primary melanomas and metastases and in primary melanomas than in metastases (p < 0.05). Furthermore, Abn+N was the second powerful prognostic discriminator, after melanoma thickness, and a significantly lower survival was observed in vertical growth phase melanoma patients showing Abn+N in more than 50% of melanoma cells.


An altered nuclear nucleolin expression seems to accompany melanoma progression. Further investigation on nucleolin functionality and subcellular trafficking could add information on its altered role in melanoma.


Mourmouras V, Cevenini G, Cosci E, Epistolato MC, Biagioli M, Barbagli L, Luzi P, Mannucci S, Miracco C. Nucleolin protein expression in cutaneous melanocytic lesions.

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