Is MAGE-1 expression in metastatic malignant melanomas really helpful?

Am J Surg Pathol. 2004 Jul;28(7):883-8. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200407000-00006.


Melanoma antigen-encoding gene (MAGE-1) has been introduced as a sensitive immunohistochemical marker to aid in the diagnosis of malignant melanomas, in particular, those that are HMB-45 negative. Our goal was to determine the consistency of positive staining in melanomas on the basis of the usefulness of MAGE-1 in comparison with tyrosinase and MART-1. We studied 56 malignant melanomas using immunohistochemical markers to MAGE-1, tyrosinase, MART-1, HMB-45, and S-100. Six of 17 HMB-45-negative cases were strongly positive for MAGE-1 (35%), while 9 of 39 HMB-45-positive cases were positive for MAGE-1 (23%), overall, 27% positivity (n = 56). Tyrosinase and MART-1 were both strongly positive in 42 of 56 cases (75%). Fifty-two of 56 cases were strongly positive for S-100 (93%). We found MAGE-1 to be less sensitive than described in other studies, and overall, not very helpful, especially as a predictor of aggressive behavior. Although MAGE-1 expression has been considered as a target for immunomodulation therapy, our findings do not indicate consistent expression of this epitope in a majority of melanomas. S-100 protein, tyrosinase, and MART-1 immunomarkers were more frequently positive in our melanoma cases and appear to constitute a useful panel of markers to aid in the diagnosis of metastatic malignant melanomas, especially in patients with an unknown primary.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Female
  • Granulocytes
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Isoantigens / analysis
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens
  • Middle Aged
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase / analysis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • S100 Proteins / analysis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • HNA-4A antigen
  • Isoantigens
  • MAGEA1 protein, human
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • S100 Proteins
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase