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Keywords:

  • Grey-horse melanoma;
  • Human malignant melanoma;
  • Human blue nevi;
  • Human desmoplastic melanoma;
  • Histopathology;
  • Immunohistochemistry;
  • Apoptosis

Equine melanoma shows striking features particularly with regard to clinical development in grey horses: in contrast to malignant melanoma in humans and in solid coloured horses that are characterized by early onset of metastasis, pigment cell tumours display almost benign clinical features in ageing grey horses. Through evolution, grey horses appear to be in a favourable position in regard to the biological behaviour of melanomas. Yet unknown factors inhibiting or retarding early melanoma metastasis may be responsible for this phenomenon. In this study, immunostaining profiles and histopathologic patterns of equine vs. human melanotic tumours were compared. In addition, the expression of melanoma markers currently used in human melanoma detection and characterization were evaluated for their applicability in equine melanoma diagnosis. Immunohistopathologic investigations revealed that benign grey horse melanomas share common features with human blue nevi and with human malignant desmoplastic melanomas, whereas their resemblance to other types of human cutaneous malignant melanomas is less pronounced. Our data equally underline that S-100, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), HMB-45, Ki-67, T-311 and CD44 can serve as reliable markers for horse melanomas. Further investigations aiming at identifying factors retarding metastasis in affected grey horses are needed, as they may contribute to the development of novel treatment strategies for human malignant melanoma.