Skip to main content
  • Poster presentation
  • Open access
  • Published:

Circulating dendritic cell levels identify high-risk stage II-III melanoma patients: a potential role as additional prognostic marker


Melanoma is an immunogenic cancer that overcomes the immune surveillance through the production of tolerogenic cytokines and growth factors within microenvironment. Melanoma-derived dendritic cells (DCs) show altered maturation, cross-priming and antigenic presentation and their major defect concerns the activation of the STAT pathway. The prognostic criteria to define melanoma at high-risk of relapse/recurrence include the Breslow depth, the Clark level and number of mitosis. Sentinel lymph node (SLN) characterization is a prognostic factor in melanoma, although false negative occurs in approximately 5% of patients. We investigated the potential prognostic role of DC number variation in relation to clinical stage, and suggest their role as early predictor of high risk melanomas.


84 patients (group A; stage I-IV) with a previously definite diagnosis of melanoma as well as 18 (group B) with highly suspected cutaneous lesion were enrolled into the study. Peripheral blood was collected at study entry in patients of group A, whereas cells from group B were collected before and after the primary tumor exeresis and then before/after any surgical procedure including SLN, lymphadenectomy or metastasis removal. Both myeloid (m) and plasmacytoid (p) DCs were investigated by flow-cytometry using the anti-Lin, -CD11c, -BDCA-1, -CD123, and -BDCA-2 MoAbs. The percentage number of both mDCs and pDCs was correlated to clinical stage as well as to indipendent prognostic factors as histological features including Breslow, Clark level, presence/absence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, and BRAF V600E/K mutations.


The percentage of both mDCs and pDCs from group A were similar in stage I-III and dramatically reduced in those at stage IV. A. Lack of correlation was also demonstrated with clinical features and prognostic factors. By contrast, data from group B showed: an increase of mDCs and pDCs (p<0.05) after tumor removal as well as in those with negative SLN whereas both subsets resulted unchanged in patients with positive SLN. A weak trend to DC increase occurred in patients undergoing negative lymphoadenectomy. Number of mDCs and pDCs from group B was correlated with histological features and unrelated to mutational status.


These findings suggest the critical pathogenetic role of DC in melanoma and their measurement may be thus proposed as additional prognostic factor to limit the risk of underscoring the melanoma stage of patients at high risk of relapse/recurrence.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Open Access  This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Stucci, S., Tucci, M., Passarelli, A. et al. Circulating dendritic cell levels identify high-risk stage II-III melanoma patients: a potential role as additional prognostic marker. J Transl Med 13 (Suppl 1), P14 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: