While melanoma is not the most common form of skin cancer, it represents the vast majority of skin cancer-related deaths. Indeed, while combination therapies such as Dabrafenib and Trametinib have shown great promise in clinical trials for treating metastatic disease, some melanoma subtypes nevertheless develop resistances to front-line treatments. Under in vitro conditions, some metastatic human melanoma cell lines have been observed to evolve resistance to treatment while simultaneously changing color under brightfield microscopy, hinting at perturbations in pigment synthesis. The process known as melanogenesis gives rise to the two forms of melanin found in mammals: eumelanin, a dark brown/black pigment, and pheomelanin, a much more pale red/blond pigment. Interestingly, pheomelanin has been shown to contribute to the onset and development of melanoma in an ultraviolet-radiation-independent manner through a mechanism of oxidative stress. Eumelanin, on the other hand, is a known antioxidant whose chemical properties seem to shield cells against oxidative damage. To study these pigments in closer detail, nonlinear optical microscopy including coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) was used for the specific visualization and quantification of the relative abundance of pheomelanin and eumelanin within these treatment resistant cell lines. These microscopy toolkits provide a means to monitor changes in pigmentation in a noninvasive and non-destructive manner without the use of exogenous dyes to better understand the molecular basis of treatment resistance.
Sam Osseiran, Hequn Wang, Ken Dutton-Regester, Levi A. Garraway, and Conor L. Evans, "Label-free longitudinal monitoring of melanogenesis in the evolution of melanoma treatment resistance (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10069, Multiphoton Microscopy in the Biomedical Sciences XVII, 100690N (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2017; Published: 24 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253399.5380018887001.
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