Genetic markers associated with progression in early mycosis fungoides


  • Conflicts of interest

    • None declared.
  • Funding sources

    • L.Y.M. is supported by the Dermatology Foundation, the NIH/NCI K12CA090625, and the Vanderbilt Department of Medicine/Dermatology. C.M.E. is supported by R01CA148950 and the Vanderbilt Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. This project was also supported by the CTSA award No. UL1TR000445 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and the American Cancer Society (IRG-58-009-51).



Mycosis fungoides (MF) is a rare, but potentially devastating malignancy. It classically presents with cutaneous patches and plaques and can progress to tumours on the skin with lymph node, blood and visceral involvement. While most patients with MF have a relatively benign disease course, a subset of patients will develop progressive disease that is often fatal.


The aim of this study was to identify genetic markers in early MF limited to the skin (stages IA-IIA) that distinguish those patients who will have progressive disease from those who will not, so that early appropriate treatment may be instituted.


The study includes 18 patients who were diagnosed with early stage MF at the time of biopsy and had follow-up to determine which patients developed progressive disease. RNA was extracted from skin biopsy specimens and analysed for expression of CD3, FOXP3, IFNγ, Interleukin (IL)-4, IL-13, KIR3DL2, MICB, PLS3 and STAT4 by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction.


Reduced expression of FOXP3 and STAT4 and increased expression of IL-4 relative to CD3 expression levels were significantly associated with MF progression. Further studies will be needed to fully assess the usefulness of these genetic markers to predict disease progression and guide treatment options in patients diagnosed with early MF.