Merkel cell carcinomas (MCC) are very aggressive tumors of the sun-exposed skin with a high potential to metastasize. Little is known about the genesis of MCC and very few prognostic markers have been detected so far. The Wnt pathway protein β-catenin and the cell cycle protein cyclin D1 are two promotors of tumor growth and are expressed in a variety of malignant neoplasms such as lymphomas, thyroid, breast cancer, and many others.
Patients and Methods
Tissue samples of 27 patients with MCC were immunohistochemically stained for β-catenin and cyclin D1 and correlated with overall survival of patients. In addition, western blot analysis was carried out in the two MCC cell lines MCC-13 and MCC-26.
β-catenin showed a cytoplasmatic expression of 10–30 % in 11 samples and an expression lower than 10 % in eight samples. Nuclear staining was visible in two samples. None of the 27 samples expressed cyclin D1.
Neither cyclin D1 nor β-catenin was expressed in a statistically significant manner, concluding that the development of MCCs is independent of β-catenin and cyclin D1 expression and these proteins are not suitable as prognostic markers. We could describe the expression pattern of cyclin D1 for the first time.