Circulating Immune Complexes and Tumor Cell Cytotoxins as Prognostic Indicators in Malignant Melanoma: A Prospective Study of 53 Patients

R. D. Rossen, M. M. Crane, A. C. Morgan, E. H. Giannini, B. C. Giovanella, J. S. Stehlin, J. J. Twomey, E. M. Hersh

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19 Scopus citations


To evaluate the relationship between tumor burden and circulating immune complexes (IC) in malignant melanoma, we tested sera collected serially from 15 normal donors and 53 patients. Forty-eight of these had Stage III or IV disease at the outset of the study. The median survival time (MST) of ten patients with Stage IV disease whose sera contained C1q-binding IC at the outset of the study was 4.7 months; the MST of the 25 Stage IV patients whose sera were initially free of IC by this test was 8.65 months (p < 0.02). Clq-binding IC were not found in the initial serum samples from 13 patients with Stage III or 5 patients with Stage I disease. Abnormal C1q binding tests were measured in 4 of 67 sera (6%) from 13 patients who remained free of evident tumor for up to 41 months. IC were detected in 13 of 39 sera (33%) from 19 patients with progressively growing tumors and in 21 of 68 sera (31 %) from 21 patients who were initially free of disease but developed recurrences later, or who had significant remissions of variable duration during follow-up. The MST of 31 patients whose serial serum samples remained free of Clq-binding IC was 15.8 months. Twelve patients whose sera were initially free of circulating IC later developed abnormal serum Clq-binding levels. Their MST was 10.3 months. The MST of ten patients with persistently abnormal serum IC levels was 4.7 months. Clq-binding IC were reciprocally related to the presence of complement-dependent antibodies, cytotoxic for cultured allogeneic malignant melanoma cells in sera from 29 of these patients (r = -0.491; p = 0.003). These results suggest that the appearance of circulating Clq-binding IC is pathophysiologically important in malignant melanoma. Measurement of Clq-binding IC may be useful in assigning prognosis in this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-429
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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