Over the past ten years, Dr. Claire Lugassy’s primary research focus has been to draw attention to angiotropism (the tumor cells closely opposed to the external surfaces of vessels) as a meaningful biologic process and correlate of Extravascular Migratory Metastasis (EVMM), and as a prognostic factor in primary melanoma. With Dr. Raymond Barnhill, she co-developed EVMM as an important alternative mechanism of melanoma metastasis distinct from intravascular dissemination. During the process of EVMM along vessels, angiotropic melanoma cells migrate along the external, abluminal surfaces of vascular channels in a pericytic location without intravasation. Lugassy also utilized in vitro and in vivo models to demonstrate the migration of melanoma cells and other types of tumor, in particular glioblastoma, along the external surfaces of vessels in a pericytic location.
Recently, Lugassy and Barnhill have selected, from a microarray analysis involving angiotropic melanomas, several genes that are linked to neural crest migration and, potentially, these genes may also directly be involved in EVMM. In addition, they have emphasized the analogies of EVMM with neural crest cell migration and vasculogenesis/angiogenesis. These processes continue to be Lugassy’s primary research interest, with angiotropism and EVMM now recognized by the international scientific community as an important alternative means of melanoma and other tumor dissemination, and as a key focus of present and future cancer research.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications:
Lugassy C, Lazar V, Dessen P, van den Oord JJ, Winnepenninckx V, Spatz A, Bagot M, Bensussan A, Janin A, Eggermont AM, Barnhill RL. Gene expression profiling of human angiotropic primary melanoma: selection of 15 differentially expressed genes potentially involved in extravascular migratory metastasis. Eur J Cancer. 2011 May;47(8):1267-75. Epub 2011 Feb 19.
Barnhill RL, Kutzner H, Schmidt B, Ali L, Bagot M, Janin A, Lugassy C. Atypical spitzoid melanocytic neoplasms with angiotropism: a potential mechanism of locoregional involvement. Am J Dermatopathol. 2011 May;33(3):236-43.
Barnhill RL, Chastain MA, Jerdan MS, Lebbé C, Janin A, Lugassy C. Angiotropic neonatal congenital melanocytic nevus: how extravascular migration of melanocytes may explain the development of congenital nevi. Am J Dermatopathol. 2010 Jul;32(5):495-9.
Lugassy C, Torres-Muñoz JE, Kleinman HK, Ghanem G, Vernon S, Barnhill RL. Overexpression of malignancy-associated laminins and laminin receptors by angiotropic human melanoma cells in a chick chorioallantoic membrane model. J Cutan Pathol. 2009 Dec;36(12):1237-43.
Lugassy C, Kleinman HK, Vernon SE, Welch DR, Barnhill RL. C16 laminin peptide increases angiotropic extravascular migration of human melanoma cells in a shell-less chick chorioallantoic membrane assay. Br J Dermatol. 2007 Oct;157(4):780-2. Epub 2007 Aug 17.