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01.09.2013 | original article | Ausgabe 17-18/2013

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 17-18/2013

Expression of β-catenin and cyclin D1 in Merkel cell carcinomas of the head and neck

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 17-18/2013
MD, PD Asst Prof Claudia Lill, MD Sven Schneider, MD Bahil Ghanim, MD, PD Markus Brunner, MD Prof Gregor Heiduschka, MD Prof Robert Loewe, MD Prof Dietmar Thurnher



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.

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