Molecular analyses indicate that periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-positive (laminin-rich) patterns in melanomas are generated by invasive tumor cells by vasculogenic mimicry. Some observers, however, consider these patterns to be fibrovascular septa, generated by a stromal host response.
To delineate differences between vasculogenic mimicry patterns and fibrovascular septa in primary uveal melanomas.
Frequency distributions, associations with outcome, and thicknesses of trichrome-positive and PAS-positive looping patterns were determined in 234 primary uveal melanomas. Sequential sections of 13 additional primary uveal melanomas that contained PAS-positive/trichrome-negative looping patterns were stained for type I and type IV collagens, laminin, and fibronectin. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction was performed on RNA from cultured uveal melanoma cells for the expression of COL1A1, COL4A2, and fibronectin.
Trichrome-positive loops were encountered less frequently than PAS-positive loops (10% vs 56%, respectively). Death from metastatic melanoma was strongly associated with PAS-positive (P < .001) but not with trichrome-positive (P = .57) loops. Trichrome-positive loops were significantly thicker than PAS-positive loops (P < .001). The PAS-positive patterns stained positive for laminin, type I and type IV collagens, and fibronectin. Type I collagen was detected within melanoma cells and focally within some PAS-positive patterns. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction revealed 3-fold, 25-fold, and 97-fold increases, respectively, in expression of COL4A2, fibronectin, and COL1A1 by invasive pattern-forming primary melanoma cells compared with poorly invasive non-pattern-forming cells.
Fibrovascular septa are rare and prognostically insignificant in uveal melanomas, whereas vasculogenic mimicry patterns are associated with increased mortality. Type I collagen, seen focally in some vasculogenic mimicry patterns, may be synthesized by tumor cells, independent of a host stromal response.