Pulmonary lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a disease of young women, is characterized by proliferation of immature-appearing smooth-muscle cells (LAM cells) in the lungs and abdomen. LAM cells react with monoclonal antibody HMB45, which recognizes a 100-kD glycoprotein (gp100) originally found in human melanoma cells. We investigated the expression and the subcellular localization of gp100 in lung tissue from patients with LAM and in human melanoma cell lines (Malme-3M, A2058, and CHL-1), and the relationship between this expression and cellular proliferation. Binding sites for HMB45 antibody in melanoma and LAM cells were located in cytoplasmic granules resembling immature melanosomes. LAM cells reactive for proliferating-cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), a marker of cellular proliferation, were spindle-shaped, in contrast to the large, epithelioid cells reacting with HMB45 antibody. In accord with this finding, we observed an inverse relationship between the immunostaining for HMB45 antibody and PCNA in LAM and melanoma cells. Thus, LAM and melanoma cells are heterogeneous with respect to their stages of proliferation and their expression of melanoma antigens. PCNA-positive cells, which are more likely to be negative for reactivity with HMB45 antibody, may be more relevant to the progression of LAM than are HMB45-positive cells, which are the hallmark of LAM.
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