Regression in melanoma is a frequent biological event of uncertain prognostic value as the lesion exhibits heterogeneous phenotypical features, both at the morphological and immunohistochemical level. In the present study, we examined the expression of tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMP1, TIMP2 and TIMP3) in melanoma with regression. We specifically examined the expression levels of these TIMPs in regressed components (RC) and non-regressed components (NRC) of the tumor and compared their expression levels with those in non-regressed melanomas. We found that TIMP1 was overexpressed in the NRC of melanomas with partial regression (PR) compared with the NRC in melanomas with segmental regression (SR) (P=0.011). TIMP2 was overexpressed in the NRC of melanomas with PR compared with the NRC in melanomas with SR (PR/SR, P=0.009); or compared with the NRC in melanomas with simultaneous SR-PR (P=0.002); or compared with melanomas without regression (absence of regression) (P=0.037). Moreover, TIMP3 was overexpressed in the NRC of all melanomas with SR as compared to the RC component (P=0.007). Our findings on the differential expression of TIMP1, TIMP2 and TIMP3 in melanomas with regression support the hypothesis that the morphological differences identified in the melanoma regression spectrum may have a correlation with prognosis. This may explain the controversial findings within the literature concerning the biological and prognostic role of regression in melanoma.
Keywords: melanoma with regression; prognosis; tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases.