Localization of basic fibroblast growth factor mRNA in melanocytic lesions by in situ hybridization
Scott, G.; Stoler, M.; Sarkar, S.; Halaban, R.
Journal of Investigative Dermatology 96(3): 318-322
Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is a mitogen for normal human melanocytes and keratinocytes in culture. Experiments in vitro suggest that keratinocytes supply bFGF to melanocytes through a paracrine mechanism and that the aberrant expression of bFGF in melanomas confers growth independence from bFGF-producing cells. To determine whether bFGF is expressed in vivo, we examined a series of benign and malignant melanocytic lesions in situ using bFGF riboprobes on tissue sections, and correlated bFGF expression with histologic phenotype. Seventeen melanocytic neoplasms were studied, including four common acquired nevi, four dysplastic nevi, four primary malignant melanomas, and five metastatic melanomas. Nevic cells in benign intradermal nevi showed low signal intensity (1+), whereas compound and dysplastic nevi showed 2+ to 3+ expression in the junctional nevic cell population and 1+ expression in the dermal nevic cell population. Melanocytes in primary melanomas had intermediate (2+) and those in metastatic melanomas had low (1+) levels of bFGF gene transcripts. Fibroblasts expressed high levels (3+) and epidermal and adnexal keratinocytes moderate (2+) levels of bFGF in all cases studied. Basic FGF expression in endothelial cells, known to produce and respond to this growth factor in vitro, was lower than that in the fibroblast and keratinocyte cell population and, in 10 of 17 cases, no bFGF mRNA was detectable. This study shows that bFGF is expressed in nevomelanocytes in vivo in all melanocytic lesions studied and thus cannot be used as a marker for transformation. The presence of bFGF gene transcripts in the various dermal cell types and in keratinocytes suggests that it may act as an autocrine and paracrine growth factor in regulating cellular proliferation in the skin.