Novel immune signatures associated with dysplastic naevi and primary cutaneous melanoma in human skin

Bernice Y. Yan, Sandra Garcet, Nicholas Gulati, Felix Kiecker, Judilyn Fuentes-Duculan, Patricia Gilleaudeau, Mary Sullivan-Whalen, Avner Shemer, Hiroshi Mitsui, James G. Krueger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dysplastic naevi (DN) are benign lesions with atypical features intermediate between that of common melanocytic naevi (CMN) and malignant melanoma (MM). Debate remains over whether DN represent progressive lesions from CMN. Through gene expression profiling and analysis of molecular gene signatures, our study revealed progressive increases in immune activation and regulation, along with pathways implicated in melanomagenesis, from CMN to DN to MM. Using criteria of 1.5-fold change and false discovery rate ≤0.05, we found differential expression of 7186 probes (6370 unique genes) with the largest difference detected between DN and MM from the standpoint of genomic melanoma progression. Despite progressive increases in the T-helper type 1 (Th1)-inducing gene (IL-12), RT-PCR indicated impaired Th1 or cytotoxic T-cell response (decreased IFN-γ) in MM. Concordantly, our results indicated progressive increases in molecular markers associated with regulatory T cells, exhausted T cells and tolerogenic dendritic cells, including detection of increased expression of suppressor of cytokine signalling 3 (SOCS3) in dendritic cells associated with MM. All together, our findings suggest that the increased immunosuppressive microenvironment of melanoma may contribute to unhampered proliferation of neoplastic cells. In addition, the detection of increased markers associated with tolerogenic dendritic cells in MM suggests that targeting these suppressive immune cell types may represent an alternative avenue for future immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-44
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • exhausted T cell
  • immune checkpoints
  • immunoregulation
  • regulatory dendritic cell
  • tumor immunology


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