Type I collagen expression contributes to angiogenesis and the development of deeply invasive cutaneous melanoma



Tumors are complex tissues composed of neoplastic cells, soluble and insoluble matrix components and stromal cells. Here we report that in melanoma, turn-over of type I collagen (Col(I)), the predominant matrix protein in dermal stroma affects melanoma progression. Fibroblasts juxtaposed to melanoma cell nests within the papillary dermis display high levels of Col(I) mRNA expression. These nests are enveloped by collagen fibers. In contrast, melanoma-associated fibroblasts within the reticular dermis express Col(I) mRNA at a level that is comparable to its expression in uninvolved dermis and reduced amount of collagen protein can be observed. To determine the significance of Col(I) expression in melanoma, we pharmacologically inhibited its transcription in a porcine cutaneous melanoma model by oral administration of halofuginone. When administered before melanoma development, it reduced melanoma incidence and diminished the transition from microinvasive toward deeply invasive growth by limiting the development of a tumor vasculature. Whereas invasive melanoma growth has been correlated with increased blood vessel density previously, our data for the first time demonstrate that the proangiogenic effect of Col(I) expression by fibroblasts and vascular cells precedes the development of invasive melanomas in a de novo tumor model. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.