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Journal of Oncology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 584219, 8 pages
Review Article

Malignant Melanoma and Its Stromal Nonimmune Microecosystem

Department of Dermatopathology, Liège University Hospital, 4000 Liège, Belgium

Received 28 March 2012; Revised 23 May 2012; Accepted 27 May 2012

Academic Editor: Jose R. Conejo-Garcia

Copyright © 2012 Gérald E. Piérard et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In recent years, rapid advances were reached in the understanding of a series of biologic signals influencing cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) cells. CMM is in close contact with a peculiar dermal extracellular matrix (ECM). Stromal cells store and release various structural ECM components. The impact on CMM growth and progression is mediated through strong and long-lasting effects of ECM products. This paper summarizes some peculiar aspects of the peri-CMM stroma showing intracytoplasmic loads in Factor XIIIa, CD34, versican, and α (IV) collagen chains. The restricted peri-CMM skin territory exhibiting such changes corresponds to the area showing neoangiogenesis and extravascular unicellular metastatic spread. The latter inconspicuous migratory CMM cells possibly correspond to CMM stem cells or to CMM cells with aberrant HOX gene expression. Their presence is associated with an increased risk for metastases in the regional sentinel lymph nodes. In conclusion, the CMM-stroma connection appears crucial to the growth regulation, invasiveness and initial metastatic spread of CMM cells. Although much remains to be learned in this field, the active intervention of the peri-CMM stroma is likely involved in the inconspicuous early metastatic migration of CMM cells.