Investigation of the mechanism of increased melanoma incidence in UV-irradiated mouse skin

Cherrie Kay Shelby Donawho, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The availability of transplantable, syngeneic murine melanomas made it possible to study the potential effects of UV radiation on the growth and progression of melanomas in an animal model. The purpose of my study was to determine how UV-irradiation increases the incidence of melanoma out-growth, when syngeneic melanoma cells are transplanted into a UV-irradiated site. Short term intermittent UVB exposure produces a transitory change in the mice which allows the increased outgrowth of melanoma cells injected into the UV-irradiated site. One possible mechanism is an immunomodulatory effect of UVR on the host. An alternative mechanism to account for the increased tumor incidence in the UV-irradiated site, is the release of inflammatory mediators from UV-irradiated epidermal cells. A third possibility is that UVR could induce the production and/or release of melanoma-specific growth factors resulting in increased melanoma outgrowth. My first step in distinguishing among these different possible mechanisms was to characterize further the conditions leading to increased development of melanoma cells in UV-irradiated mouse skin. Next, I attempted to determine which of the 3 proposed mechanisms was most likely. To do this, I defined the specificity of the effect by examining the growth of additional C3H tumorigenic cell lines in UV-irradiated skin. Second, I determined the immunogenicity of these tumor cell lines. The tumor cell lines exhibiting increased tumor incidence are restricted to those tumor cell lines which are immunogenic in normal C3H mice. Third, I determined the effect of UVR on melanoma development did not occur in immunosuppressed mice. Because of results from these three lines of investigation suggested that the effect was immunologically mediated, I then investigated whether specific immune reactions were affected by local UV irradiation. To accomplish this, I investigated the effect of UVR on cutaneous immune cells and on induction of contact hypersensitivity (CHS), and I also determined the effect of UVR on the development and the expression of systemic immunity against the melanoma cells. There is no clear cut relationship between the number of Langerhans or Thy1+ cells and the UV effect on tumor incidence. Furthermore, there was no suppression of CHS in the UV-irradiated mice. While the development of systemic immunity is significantly reduced, it appears to be sufficient to provide in vivo immunity to tumor challenge. However the elicitation of tumor immunity in immunized mice can be abrogated if tumor challenge occurs in the site of UV irradiation. This investigation provides new information on an effect of UVR on the elicitation of tumor immunity. Furthermore, it indicates that UV radiation can play a role in the development of melanoma other than just in the transformation of melanocytes.

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Recommended Citation

Donawho, Cherrie Kay Shelby, "Investigation of the mechanism of increased melanoma incidence in UV-irradiated mouse skin" (1990). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9100850.