The presence and the role of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in different types of tumors, but particularly in melanoma, has become more and more investigated during the last decade, both in human and veterinary medicine. Melanocytic tumors are quite rare in cats, with diffuse iris melanoma being the most commonly diagnosed in this species. The aim of this study was to characterize the lymphocytic infiltration in feline melanocytic tumors and to analyze their association with the histological features of malignancy recognized in these tumors, as well as with the expression of the most commonly used immunohistochemical markers. Thirty-eight feline melanocytic tumors were retrospectively selected; histological and immunohistochemical characterization of the tumors (histologic criteria of malignancy; S100, Melan A, and PNL2 expression) and of TILs (presence/absence, density, distribution, and grade; CD3, CD20 expression) were performed and associations between them tested. Results showed that TILs grade increased with cellular pleomorphism (P < 0.05) and, within the group of cutaneous melanocytic tumors, also with the mitotic count (P < 0.05). On the other hand, TILs grade was inversely associated with the percentage of neoplastic cells positive for Melan A (P < 0.05) and PNL2 (P < 0.05). Both CD3+ and CD20+ lymphocytes increased significantly with TILs grade and in association with mitotic count, when stratified in low/high quantity. This preliminary study suggests that TILs in feline melanoma may be associated with histologic features of malignancy and loss of melanocytic-specific markers, such as Melan A and PNL2. Further studies, with a larger cohort and follow-up information, are recommended.
Ilaria Porcellato;Serenella Silvestri;Monica Sforna
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