Phenotypic and genotypic analysis of amelanotic and hypomelanotic melanoma patients

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2019 Jun;33(6):1076-1083. doi: 10.1111/jdv.15446. Epub 2019 Mar 15.


Background: Amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma is associated with poorer outcomes due to a more advanced disease stage at diagnosis.

Objective: To determine phenotypic risks and genotypic associations with amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma to develop a clinical and genetic profile that could assist in identifying high-risk individuals.

Methods: The Brisbane Naevus Morphology Study conducted from 2009 to 2016 has recruited a core of 1254 participants. Participants were drawn from a combination of volunteers from dermatology outpatient clinics, private dermatology clinics, the Brisbane Longitudinal Twin Study and QSkin study. Case participants had a personal history of melanoma and control participants no personal history of melanoma. We specifically examined seven known candidate pigmentation and melanoma genes and pigmentary phenotypic characteristics in participants with amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma compared to pigmented melanomas. This assayed single nucleotide polymorphisms in MC1R, TYR, HERC/OCA2, IRF4, MTAP, PLA2G6 and MITF.

Results: Forty-seven participants had at least one amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma, and 389 had pigmented melanomas, with amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma patients significantly older than pigmented melanoma participants (63.3 ± 13.0 vs. 54.6 ± 15.3 years; P < 0.001). Amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma patients were more likely than pigmented melanoma patients to have red hair (34% vs. 15%; P = 0.01), severe hand freckling (13% vs. 5%; P = 0.01) and propensity to sunburn (63% vs. 44%; P = 0.01). MC1R R/R genotype was much more frequent in our amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma population (31.1% vs. 11%; P < 0.001; OR 26.4 vs. 5.9; control 1.0). Amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma was associated with TYR rs1126809*A/A [OR (CI 95%) 2.7 (1.1-6.8) vs. 1.2 (0.8-1.9)] and PLA2G6 rs11570734*A/A [OR (CI 95%) 3.7 (1.0-13.6) vs. 1.3 (0.9-2.0)]. The MTAP melanoma risk SNP genotype, associated with darker pigmentation, (rs4636294*A/A) was less common in amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma patients [OR (CI 95%) 0.8 (0.3-2.1) vs. 2.0 (1.3-3.1)].

Conclusions: Knowledge of phenotypic and genotypic associations of amelanotic/hypomelanotic melanoma can help predict risks and associations of this difficult to diagnose melanoma, which may ultimately assist clinical management and patient skin self-examination.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma, Amelanotic / genetics*
  • Melanoma, Cutaneous Malignant
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype*
  • Prognosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*