Melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer is on the rise. This review not only underlines the close connection between skin and endocrine system, but also lists evidences from multiple sources epidemiological, clinical, previous in vivo and in vitro studies regarding the involvement of sex steroids in melanoma. Incidentally, clinical studies underscored the involvement of sex steroids in the protective function in melanoma in menstruating females. But, none of these studies identified the sex steroids involved in the protective function in melanoma in menstruating females. The sex steroid involved in this innate protection in melanoma in menstruating females has not been investigated by scientists, though advances have been made in immunotherapy with accompanying side effects. In this context, our in vitro studies on mouse and human melanoma cell lines, along with literature survey, pointed to progesterone as the possible female sex steroid involved in the protective function in melanoma. Based on our findings and previous studies, it is concluded in this review that melanoma is not a hormone-dependent cancer. But, it may be a hormone-sensitive or responsive cancer, as hormones (sex steroids) inhibited melanoma cell proliferation in vitro. This new understanding will help in developing new therapy or target for melanoma treatment.
Part of the book: Cancer Prognosis
Skin is an endocrine organ. Skin produces various hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal and sex steroid hormones. This raises the question whether skin cancer melanoma is a hormone dependent cancer. But, a review of in-vivo and in-vitro studies suggested that melanoma could be a hormone responsive cancer or hormone sensitive cancer. In fact, previous clinical study showed that menstruating females were better protected in melanoma than post-menopausal women and men of any age. However, the study did not show any direct effect of steroid hormone on melanoma cells. Our in-vitro study showed that progesterone, a female sex hormone significantly inhibited human melanoma (BLM) cell growth. Progesterone inhibitory effect on other melanoma cell lines was also reported by Fang et al., Moroni et al. and Kanda and Watanbe. So, it was hypothesized that progesterone could be protecting menstruating females in melanoma. Our further research showed that progesterone action was mediated by a specific suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8. Several in-vivo and in-vitro studies showed the importance of IL-8 in the regulation of melanoma growth. Hence, IL-8 could be considered as a potential target for melanoma treatment.
Part of the book: Cutaneous Melanoma
Progesterone, a female sex hormone not only has a role in reproduction, but also in protecting females in melanoma. A survey of steroid hormones actions steroid hormones actions survey on melanoma cells and literature survey showed that progesterone inhibited mouse and human melanoma cell growth significantly in-vitro. Progesterone not only inhibited cell growth, but also affected adhesion and migration functions (essential for metastasis) in-vitro. This observation correlated with the clinical studies where they had shown showed an increased survival and delayed metastasis in menstruating females in melanoma. Further, progesterone level in menstruating females (1000–1500 ng/dL) compared to post-menopausal females (20–100 ng/dL) also correlated with previous clinical studies. Progesterone action on melanoma cells, as reported by other researchers also supported the findings from this lab. Hence, progesterone could be the steroid hormone protecting menstruating females in melanoma. Moreover, our recent studies showed that progesterone suppressed pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 secretion by the melanoma cells, which decreased melanoma cell growth in-vitro. Hence, progesterone apart from reproductive function may also be involved in protecting menstruating females in melanoma.
Part of the book: Global Women's Health