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We examined the clonal evolution of skin malignant lesions by repeated topical applications of 20- methylcholanthrene (20-MC) to the skin, which induces hyperplastic epidermis, papillomatous lesion and invasive carcinoma in mice. The lesions were examined histologically and immunohistochemically with anti-single-stranded DNA after acid hydrolysis (DNA-instability test), p53, VEGF, DFF45, PCNA and AgNORs parameters analyses. Multiple clones with increased DNA instability comparable to that of invasive carcinoma were noted in early-stage (2-6 weeks) hyperplastic epidermis, and their number increased in middle (7-11 weeks), and late-stages (12-25 weeks) of hyperplastic epidermis, indicating that they belong to the malignancy category. All papillomatous lesions and invasive carcinomas showed a positive DNA-instability test. Positive immunostaining for various biomarkers and AgNORs parameters appeared in clones with a positive DNA-instability test in earlyor middle-stage hyperplastic epidermis, and markedly increased in late-stage hyperplastic epidermis, papillomatous lesions and invasive carcinomas. The percentage of PCNA-positive vascular endothelial cells was significantly higher in VEGFpositive lesions with a positive DNA-instability test and became higher toward the late-stage of progression. Cut-woundings were made to papillomatous and invasive carcinoma lesions, and the regeneration activity of vascular endothelial cells was determined by using flash labeling with tritiated thymidine (3H-TdR). In small papillomatous lesions, vascular endothelial cells showed regenerative response, but the response was weak in large lesions. No such response was noted in invasive carcinomas; rather, cut-wounding induced collapse of blood vessels, which in turn induced massive coagulative necrosis of cancer cells. These responses can be interpreted to reflect exhausted vascular growth activity due to excessive stimulation by VEGF-overexpression, which was persistently seen from hyperplastic epidermis to invasive carcinoma.
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