Exposure of melanoma cells to dacarbazine results in enhanced tumor growth and metastasis in vivo

Dina Chelouche Lev, Amir Onn, Vladislava O. Melinkova, Claudia Miller, Valerie Stone, Maribelis Ruiz, Eric C. McGary, Honnavara N. Ananthaswamy, Janet E. Price, Menashe Bar-Eli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: In recent years, the incidence of cutaneous melanoma has increased more than that of any other cancer. Dacarbazine is considered the gold standard for treatment, having a response rate of 15% to 20%, but most responses are not sustained. Previously, we have shown that short exposure of primary cutaneous melanoma cells to dacarbazine resulted in the upregulation of interleukin-8 (IL-8) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The purpose of the present study was to determine how long-term exposure of melanoma cells to dacarbazine would affect their tumorigenic and metastatic potential in vivo. Materials and Methods: The primary cutaneous melanoma cell lines SB2 and MeWo were repeatedly exposed in vitro to increasing concentrations of dacarbazine, and dacarbazine-resistant cell lines SB2-D and MeWo-D were selected and examined for their ability to grow and metastasize in nude mice. Results: The dacarbazine-resistant cell lines SB2-D and MeWo-D exhibited increased tumor growth and metastatic behavior in vivo. This increase could be explained by the activation of RAF, MEK, and ERK, which led to the upregulation of IL-8 and VEGF. More IL-8, VEGF, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), and microvessel density (CD-31) were found in tumors produced by SB2-D and MeWo-D in vivo than in those produced by their parental counterparts. No mutations were observed in BRAF. Conclusion: Our results have significant clinical implications. Treatment of melanoma patients with dacarbazine could select for a more aggressive melanoma phenotype. We propose that combination treatment with anti-VEGF/IL-8 or MEK inhibitors may potentiate the therapeutic effects of dacarbazine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2092-2100
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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