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Molecular Epidemiology of Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma

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75 Years
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Trial Information

Molecular Epidemiology of Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma

This case-control study was planned to investigate the link of solar radiation with gene
damage, host factors, including also genetic variants, and DNA repair proficiency in
cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) risk. The hypothesis was that impaired DNA repair
proficiency is associated with an increased risk of CMM due to unrepaired DNA damage,
particularly in subjects with dysplastic nevi, poor tanning ability or genetic

The study was reviewed and funded as an R01 Grant from the National Cancer Institute in
1995. Subject enrollment, which included clinical evaluation, epidemiologic questionnaires,
and skin and blood sample collection, was completed in 1999 on approximately 180 melanoma
cases and 180 controls identified in Italy. The study protocol and consent form both
included the measurement of genetic and biochemical factors, and DNA repair capacity. DNA
repair proficiency was measured in lymphocytes by the host cell reactivation assay, and sun
exposure was evaluated by means of a detailed questionnaire. Photographs of the back of
the subjects were taken to allow nevi count. Minimal erythemal dosage was measured in all
subjects to estimate skin sun sensitivity 24 hours after skin's UV-irradiation. Skin color
was ascertained on the inner side of the forearm by means of a Minolta chromometer.

The aim of this protocol is to continue analysis of the biological samples already
collected, as originally outlined in the study protocol. In particular, we measured
polymorphisms in genes that may lead to susceptibility to melanoma by altering the repair of
damaged DNA. In addition, we investigated the role of pigmentation genes, including MC1R,
ASIP and AGRP in melanogenesis, and their interaction with sun exposure and DNA repair. We
have found that variants in the MCIR gene are associated with risk of developing melanoma,
and in particular, the type of melanomas that arise on skin with no marked signs of chronic
solar damage and that bears mutations in the BRAF oncogene. We are currently analyzing other
genes in the pigmentation pathway. We have also completed the laboratory analyses of the
protein pattern in plasma of all subjects and we are conducting the related statistical
analyses, to investigate whether they differ by case-status, presence of dysplastic nevi,
gene polymorphisms or DNA repair proficiency. Moreover, we are studying the effect of
variants in KIR genes and protection against melanoma risk.

Inclusion Criteria

- Analysis on samples already collected.

Type of Study:


Study Design:


Principal Investigator

Maria T Landi, M.D.

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

National Cancer Institute (NCI)


United States: Federal Government

Study ID:




Start Date:

October 2001

Completion Date:

Related Keywords:

  • Melanoma
  • DNA Repair
  • Genes
  • Pigmentation
  • Skin Cancer
  • Sun Exposure
  • Melanoma
  • Skin Neoplasms



National Cancer Institute (NCI), 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland  20892