Objective: To determine whether expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is of prognostic value in uveal melanoma.
Methods: Thirty consecutive patients treated for primary posterior uveal melanoma by enucleation or local resection were studied. Tumors were examined for EGFR and CD68 expression by immunohistochemistry on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections. Extracted DNA from paired frozen tumor and blood samples was examined for loss of heterozygosity on chromosome 3 using polymerase chain reaction-based microsatellite analysis. Immunoreactivity for EGFR was correlated with clinicopathological, chromosome 3, and follow-up data.
Results: Immunoreactivity for EGFR was observed in 7 (23%) of 30 uveal melanomas, but was restricted to solitary or small groups of cells with macrophage-like morphology. Immunoreactive cells were confirmed as macrophages using an antibody to the macrophage marker CD68. Chromosome 3 loss, epithelioid cells, and microvascular loops were detected in 17 (57%), 22 (73%) and 19 (63%) of the 30 tumors, respectively. Metastatic disease was detected in 5 patients (17%). No correlation was found between any of these variables and EGFR positivity.
Conclusions: The absence of EGFR immunoreactivity in tumor cells does not support the use of EGFR expression as a prognostic indicator in patients with uveal melanoma. Future EGFR studies in uveal melanoma should be interpreted with caution in view of our findings that tumor-associated macrophages can express this receptor.