Background: Although various studies have stressed the role of phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN)-PI3K-AKT pathway in the progression of melanocytic lesions, little is known about the expression pattern of PI3K in these lesions.
Objective: To investigate the expression pattern of PI3K in benign and dysplastic nevi, primary melanomas, and metastatic melanomas and the role of PTEN and PI3K in melanocytic tumor progression.
Methods: Tissue microarrays were constructed using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded archival tissue blocks from 89 melanocytic lesions: 17 benign nevi, 18 dysplastic nevi, 23 primary melanomas, and 31 metastatic melanomas. Expression of PTEN and PI3K (p85 and p110 subunits) was evaluated immunohistochemically, and the number of cells and labeling intensity were assessed semiquantitatively.
Results: Both benign and dysplastic nevi showed strong cytoplasmic staining with PTEN, which was subsequently less in melanomas and completely lost in the metastatic lesions. Eleven of 17 (64%) benign nevi, seven of 10 (70%) dysplastic nevi, four of 23 (17%) primaries, and one of 31 (3%) visceral or lymph node metastasis showed strong positivity. Loss of PTEN expression from benign and dysplastic nevi to melanoma was statistically significant (p=0.001). Although few cells showed reactivity for phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3 kinase)-p85 subunit, strong positivity was not detected in the cytoplasm of benign, malignant, or metastatic lesions, except for a single visceral metastasis. Three of 13 (23%) nevi showed positivity for the p110 subunit. No positivity was observed in the dysplastic nevi. Two of 22 (9%) melanomas, one of 14 (7%) visceral metastasis, and three of 12 (25%) lymph node metastasis showed strong positivity. There was no statistical difference in PI3 kinase expression in benign and malignant melanocytic lesions (p=0.2).
Conclusion: PI3K is not overexpressed in melanocytic lesions.