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Melanoma progression and serum l-dopa/l-tyrosine ratio: a comparison with S100B

Stoitchkov, K.*; Letellier, S.; Garnier, J-P.; Bousquet, B.; Tsankov, N.; Morel, P.; Ghanem, G.; Le Bricon, T.

Original Articles

The challenge to find a reliable tumour marker for the management of melanoma patients still remains. In this study, the serum l-dopa/l-tyrosine ratio was compared with serum S100B as a reference marker. A total of 89 melanoma patients were sampled and staged according to the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) classification. Of these, 19 stage III and 28 stage IV patients were evaluated for disease progression at 1.5 years and 6 months post-sampling, respectively. Serum l-dopa and l-tyrosine were measured by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) (normal value for ratio < 16 × 10−5) and S100B using the LIA-mat Sangtec 100 assay (normal value < 0.10 μg/l). Non-parametric tests (Kruskal–Wallis analysis of variance, Dunn's and Spearman) were used for the statistical analysis. The median serum l-dopa/l-tyrosine ratio was 16.0 × 10−5 (range 2.7–545.1 × 10−5 and the median S100B level was 0.15 μg/l (range < 0.10–13.8 μg/l), with a sensitivity of 51% for the ratio and 66% for S100B. There was a 47% discordance and no correlation between the two markers (r = 0.149). The ratio was higher in stage IV than in other stages (P < 0.05), as was the S100B level (P < 0.0001). Both markers were higher in patients with evolutive disease (n = 23) than in stable patients (n = 24), with values of 20.8 × 10−5 versus 13.1 × 10−5 for the ratio (P < 0.05) and 0.89 μg/l versus 0.16 μg/l for S100B (P < 0.001); for the ratio, this difference was more pronounced in stage III than in stage IV patients. The overall sensitivity and specificity of the markers to predict disease progression were 78% and 67%, respectively, for the ratio, and 74% and 83%, respectively, for S100B (using an ROC cut-off of 0.38 μg/l). In conclusion, the serum l-dopa/l-tyrosine ratio correlates with melanoma progression and has predictive value, especially in stage III patients. This tumour marker, like S100B, could serve as an additional tool in the management of melanoma.

Department of Dermatology, National Center of Oncology, Plovdivsko pole Street No. 6, Sofia 1756, Bulgaria. Tel: (+359 88) 94 33 62; Fax: (+359 2) 72 06 51; Email:, (K. Stoitchkov). Laboratory of Biochemistry A (S. Letellier, J.-P. Garnier, B. Bousquet, T. Le Bricon) and Department of Dermatology B (P. Morel), Saint-Louis Hospital, 1 Avenue Claude Vellefaux, 75010 Paris, France. Department of Dermatology, Medical University, St G Sofiiski blvd No. 1, Sofia 1431, Bulgaria (N. Tsankov). Faculty of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences, Paris V University, France (S. Letellier, J.-P. Garnier, B. Bousquet). J. Bordet Institute (LOCE), Heger-Bordet 1, Brussels 1000, Belgium (G. Ghanem).

(Received 3 August 2001;accepted in revised form 21 November 2001)

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© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.