Virchows Archiv A

, Volume 400, Issue 1, pp 43–51 | Cite as

Malignant melanomas contain only the vimentin type of intermediate filaments

  • Jörg Caselitz
  • Michael Jänner
  • Eckhardt Breitbart
  • Klaus Weber
  • Mary Osborn


Six malignant melanomas have been examined for the type of intermediate filament they contain. All six cases showed positive staining of intermediate filaments with antibodies to vimentin, with cells containing large numbers of melanosomes being stained less strongly in general.

The tumor cells did not react with antibodies to keratin, desmin, neurofilaments or glial fibrillary acidic protein. Thus typing of intermediate filaments can distinguish melanoma from undifferentiated carcinoma, but not from lymphoma or sarcoma. Since melanocytes are known to be vimentin positive, and since most of the samples we studied were from metastases, these results are a further indication that the intermediate filament type typical of the parental cell is retained in the metastases, as well as in the primaries of solid tumours.

The implications of vimentin positivity for the histiogenesis of the melanocyte are also discussed.

Key words

Malignant melanoma Intermediate filaments Vimentin Immunohistochemistry 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ackerman AB (1981) Pathology of malignant melanoma. Masson Publishing, Inc., New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  2. Altmannsberger M, Osborn M, Hölscher A, Schauer A, Weber K (1981a) The distribution of keratin type intermediate filaments in human breast cancer: An immunohistological study, Virchows Arch [Cell Pathol] 37:277–284Google Scholar
  3. Altmannsberger M, Osborn M, Weber K (1981 b) Antibodies to different intermediate filament proteins: Cell type specific markers on paraffin embedded human tissues. Lab Invest 45:427–434Google Scholar
  4. Altmannsberger M, Osborn M, Treuner J, Hölscher A, Weber K, Schauer A (1982a) Diagnosis of human childhood rhabdomyosarcoma by antibodies to desmin the structural protein of muscle specific intermediate filaments. Virchows Arch [Cell Pathol] 39:203–215Google Scholar
  5. Altmannsberger M, Weber K, Hölscher A, Schauer A, Osborn M (1982b) Antibodies to intermediate filaments as diagnostic tools: Human gastrointestinal carcinomas express keratin. Lab Invest 46:520–526Google Scholar
  6. Bennett GS, Fellini SA, Croop JM, Otto JJ, Bryan J, Holtzer J (1978) Differences among 100 A filament subunits from different cell types. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 75:4364–4368Google Scholar
  7. Bignami A, Dahl D, Rueger DC (1980) Gial fibrillary acidic protein (GFA) in normal neural cells and in pathological conditions. In: Federoff S, Hertz L (eds) Advances in cellular neurobiology, vol 1. Academic Press, New York, p 285Google Scholar
  8. Bolande RP (1974) The neurocristopathies. A unifying concept of disease arising in neural crest maldevelopment. Hum Pathol 5:409–429Google Scholar
  9. Caselitz J, Osborn M, Seifert G, Weber K (1981) Use of antibodies to different sizes intermediate filament proteins to study the normal parotid gland and parotid gland tumors in humans. Virchows Arch [Pathol Anat] 393:273–286Google Scholar
  10. Cove H (1979) Melanosis, melanocytic hyperplasia, and primary malignant melanoma of the nasal cavity. Cancer 44:1424–1433Google Scholar
  11. Du Shane GP (1948) The development of pigmented cells in vertebrates. Spec Pub NY Acad Sci 4:1–14Google Scholar
  12. Franke WW, Appelhans B, Schmid E, Freudenstein C, Osborn M, Weber K (1979) Identification and characterization of epithelial cells in mammalian tissues by immunofluorescence microscopy using antibodies to prekeratin. Differentiation 15:7–25Google Scholar
  13. Franke WW, Schmid E, Osborn M, Weber K (1978) Different intermediate sized filaments distinguished by immunofluorescence microscopy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 75:5034–5038Google Scholar
  14. Gabbiani G, Kapanci Y, Barazzone P, Franke WW (1981) Immunochemical identification of intermediate sized filaments in human neoplastic cells. Am J Pathol 104:206–216Google Scholar
  15. Ghadially FN (1980) Diagnostic electron microscopy of tumors. Butterworths. LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Ghadially FN (1982) Ultrastructural pathology of the cell and matrix. Butterworths. LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Hu F (1981) Melanocyte cytology in normal skin, melanocytic nevi, and malignant melanomas: a review. In: Ackerman AB (ed) Pathology of malignant melanoma. Masson Publishing New York, USA, pp 1–21Google Scholar
  18. Jackson BW, Grund C, Schmid E, Bürki K, Franke WW, Illmensee K (1980) Formation of cytoskeletal elements during mouse embryogenesis. Differentiation 17:161–179Google Scholar
  19. Lever WF, Schaumburg-Lever G (1975) Histopathology of the skin. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  20. Löning T, Caselitz J, Seifert G, Weber K, Osborn M (1982) Identification of Langerhans cells. Simultaneous use of sera to intermediate filaments. T 6 and HLADR antigens on oral mucusa, human epidermis and their tumours. Virchows Arch [Pathol Anat] 398:119–128Google Scholar
  21. Osborn M, Altmannsberger M, Shaw G, Schauer A, Weber K (1982b) Various sympathetic derived human tumours differ in neurofilament expression. Virchows Arch [Cell Pathol] 40:141–156Google Scholar
  22. Osborn M, Caselitz J, Weber K (1981) Heterogeneity of intermediate filament expression in vascular smooth muscle. A gradient in desmin positive cellsfrom the rat aortic arch to the level of the arteria iliaca communis. Differentiation 20:196–202Google Scholar
  23. Osborn M, Geisler G, Shaw G, Sharp G, Weber K (1982a) Intermediate filaments. Cold Spring Harbor Symp Quant Biol 46Google Scholar
  24. Pearse AGE (1979) The APUD cell concept and its implications in pathology. Pathol Annu 9:27–41Google Scholar
  25. Rouge F, Aubert C (1979) A new approach to the differential diagnosis of human malignant melanomas. Cancer 44:199–209Google Scholar
  26. Sharp G, Osborn M, Weber K (1982) Occurence of two different intermediate filament proteins in the same filament in situ within a human glioma cell line: An immunoelectron microscopical study. Exp Cell Res (in press)Google Scholar
  27. Schnitzer J, Franke WW, Schachner M (1981) Immunocytochemical demonstration of vimentin in astrocytes and ependymal cells of developing and adult mouse nervous system. J Cell Biol 90:435–447Google Scholar
  28. Schnyder UW (Ed) (1979) Histopathologie der Haut, Teil 2. Stoffwechselkrankheiten und Tumoren. In: Doerr W, Seifert G, Uehlinger E (Hrsg) Spezielle Pathologische Anatomie, Band 7. Teil 2. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Shaw G, Weber K (1981a) The distribution of the neurofilament triplet proteins within individuals neurones. Exp Cell Re 136:119–125Google Scholar
  30. Shaw G, Osborn M, Weber K (1981b) An immunofluorescence microscopical study of the neurofilament triplet proteins, vimentin and glial fibriallary acidic protein within he adult rat brain. Eur J Cell Biol 26:68–82Google Scholar
  31. Tapscott SJ, Bennett GS, Holtzer H (1981) Neuronal precursor cells in the chick neural tube express neurofilament proteins. Nature 292:836–838Google Scholar
  32. Yen SH, Fields KL (1981) Antibodies to neurofilament, glial filament and fibroblast intermediate filament proteins bind to different cell types of the nervous system. J Cell Biol 88:115–126Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jörg Caselitz
    • 1
  • Michael Jänner
    • 2
  • Eckhardt Breitbart
    • 2
  • Klaus Weber
    • 3
  • Mary Osborn
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut für Pathologie der Universität HamburgHamburg
  2. 2.Dermatologische Klinik der Universität HamburgHamburg
  3. 3.Max Planck Institut für Biophysikalische ChemieGöttingenGermany

Personalised recommendations