The role of maspin has been discussed controversially in different tumors. In the majority of malignant tumors, maspin seems to act as a tumor suppressor. However, data about maspin expression as well as its function in melanoma are very inconsistent.


To investigate the expression of maspin in melanomas and to correlate the intensity of maspin staining with prognostic parameters of the tumor and with progression-free and overall survival.

Patients and Methods

Primary melanomas from 47 patients were investigated for maspin expression using immunohistochemistry.


Maspin was heterogeneously expressed predominantly in the cytoplasm of melanoma cells. Maspin staining intensity in the invasive part of the tumor correlated with parameters of prognosis such as Clark level (p  =  0.05), tumor thickness (p  =  0.002) and stage of disease (p  =  0.023). Maspin staining intensity in the invasive front of the tumor significantly correlated with death from disease (p  =  0.007) and shortened overall survival (p  =  0.007).


In accordance with data concerning maspin expression in colorectal cancers, the expression of this protein in the invasive front of primary melanomas seems to correlate with local infiltration and tumor aggressiveness. Strong maspin expression in the invasive margin of primary melanomas therefore might reflect an aggressive tumor phenotype.