Treatment of stage IIIA/B melanoma patients by isolated limb perfusion (ILP) with a combination of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and melphalan induces a complete response in 80-90% of the cases. The mechanism of tumor regression induced by the combination of TNF-α and melphalan is not precisely understood. Previous studies focused on the immediate (i.e., within a few days) clinico-pathological changes after perfusion involving hemorrhagic necrosis. However, clinical data clearly indicate that complete tumor remission frequently requires a period of a few weeks to as much as months after ILP. Because the mechanism underlying this delayed-type reaction is completely unknown, we studied the clinico-pathological events in patients with such slowly regressing melanoma lesions. For this purpose, 94 biopsies of in-transit melanoma metastasis that were taken sequentially from 11 patients between 1 week and 9 months after ILP were analyzed by light and electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry. Clinical data included patient sex, age, anatomical localization and size of the tumor, and follow-up. All of the 11 patients ultimately responded to perfusion treatment (9 complete, 1 partial, 1 stable disease). Serial biopsies showed scattered individual tumor cell necrosis without hemorrhage. Most of the lesions with this delayed-type reaction pattern were less than 0.5 cm in diameter. They contained varying amounts of histologically viable-looking tumor cells and tumorin-filtrating melanophages. In addition, a marked but transient infiltrate of peritumoral eosinophils and moderate interstitial edema and dermal fibrosis were encountered. Only small numbers of lymphocytes were present. In comparison with the reaction pattern after treatment with melphalan alone, the delayed- type reaction pattern was similar but more intense. The scattered tumor cell necrosis in the latter type may be explained by a TNF-α-induced increase in permeability of the tumor vascular bed, which results in higher intratumoral concentrations of melphalan or in a prolongation of its effect. Subsequently, degenerated tumor cells are cleared by macrophages, and, finally, repair by fibrosis occurs. Because the immediate reaction type is evoked by hyperpermeability of the tumor vessels as well, quantitative differences seem to determine which reaction type ensues. We suggest that the extent of tumor vasculature that is sensitive to TNF-α determines the onset and histopathological pattern of tumor regression after ILP.
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Nov 1998|