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    Innovative therapies have improved the overall survival in melanoma, although a high number of patients still experience disease progression or recurrence. Ex-vivo culture of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) represents a valuable laboratory resource for in-depth characterization of rare cell populations responsible for disease progression. CTCs from patients with metastatic melanoma were in-vitro established. Their stemness was demonstrated by both phenotypic and genotypic assays, as well as by functional studies. Xenograft experiments in NOD.CB17 mice injected with CTCs from a single patient were completed. Data were analysed by Student's test and results expressed as mean ± SEM. CTCs share the mutational profile with primary cells, an intermediate epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype and high expression of the immunosuppressive factors. A subclonal CTC population exhibited stem cell properties as high aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 activity, melanosphere-forming ability, and expression of major stemness transcription factors. Xenograft experiments confirmed the CTC ability to generate melanoma in-vivo and revealed enhanced metastatic propensity. CTCs play a relevant role in melanoma and may actively contribute to drive the disease progression and metastasis. Thus, they are a unique potential tool for pharmacogenomic studies to guide treatment strategies in advanced disease. © 2022. The Author(s).


    Claudia Felici, Francesco Mannavola, Luigia Stefania Stucci, Loren Duda, Paola Cafforio, Camillo Porta, Marco Tucci. Circulating tumor cells from melanoma patients show phenotypic plasticity and metastatic potential in xenograft NOD.CB17 mice. BMC cancer. 2022 Jul 11;22(1):754

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    PMID: 35820816

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