The replacement histopathologic growth pattern (rHGP) in melanoma liver metastases connotes an aggressive phenotype (vascular co-option; angiotropic extravascular migratory spread) and adverse prognosis. Herein, replacement and desmoplastic HGP (dHGP) were studied in uveal melanoma liver metastases (MUM). In particular, L1CAM and a “laminin vascular network” were detected at the advancing front of 14/20 cases (p = 0.014) and 16/20 cases (p = 6.4e-05) rHGPs, respectively, but both were absent in the dHGP (8/8 cases) (p = 0.014, and p = 6.3e-05, respectively). L1CAM highlighted progressive extension of angiotropic melanoma cells along sinusoidal vessels in a pericytic location (pericytic mimicry) into the hepatic parenchyma. An inverse relationship between L1CAM expression and melanin index (p = 0.012) suggested differentiation toward an amelanotic embryonic migratory phenotype in rHGP. Laminin labeled the basement membrane zone interposed between sinusoidal vascular channels and angiotropic melanoma cells at the advancing front. Other new findings: any percentage of rHGP and pure rHGP had a significant adverse effect on metastasis-specific overall survival (p = 0.038; p = 0.0064), as well as predominant rHGP (p = 0.0058). Pure rHGP also was associated with diminished metastasis-free survival relative to dHGP (p = 0.040), possibly having important implications for mechanisms of tumor spread. In conclusion, we report for the first time that L1CAM and a laminin vascular network are directly involved in this high-risk replacement phenotype. Further, this study provides more detailed information about the adverse prognostic effect of the rHGP in MUM.
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