A new study from Tel Aviv University and the Sheba Medical Center has outlined how melanoma metastasis occurs through the formation of lymphatic vessels, a process that has not to date been fully understood. The researchers note this finding may be helpful in developing a melanoma vaccine.
During melanoma progression, cells invade the dermis and become metastatic through the lymphatic and blood system. According to the researchers, this finding suggests that blocking the lymphangiogenesis process through repression of either melanosome release or type I interferon signalling may help prevent the progression of melanoma.
In the study published in Nature’s Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the authors report that an increased density of dermal lymphatic vessels can be observed prior to the invasion of melanoma cells into the dermis. The researchers determined that at the primary epidermal stage (in-situ), melanoma cells produce melanosomes, which are then taken up by dermal lymphatic cells, leading to transcriptional and phenotypic pro-lymphangiogenic changes.
“Our main research question was how melanoma impacts the formation of lymph vessels, through which it then metastasizes,” said Prof. Shoshana Greenberger of the Sheba Medical Center in a press release. “We demonstrated for the first time that in the first stage, in the epidermis, melanoma cells secrete extracellular vesicles [known as] melanosomes.”
The study was funded by the Israel Cancer Research Fund.