Melanoma incidence and mortality rates continue to increase despite the use of sunscreen as well as screening programs for early surgical excision of premalignant lesions. The steady increase in melanoma incidence suggests that additional preventive approaches are needed to augment these existing strategies. One unexplored area involves targeting genes whose deregulation promotes disease development to prevent melanoma. The Akt3 signaling pathway is one key signaling cascade that plays a central role by deregulating apoptosis to promote development of approximately 70% of melanomas. Isoselenocyanate-4 (ISC-4), derived from isothiocyanates by increasing the alkyl chain length and replacing sulfur with selenium, has been developed to target this important signaling pathway in melanomas; however, its chemopreventive potential is unknown. In this study, the chemopreventive efficacy of topical ISC-4 was evaluated in a laboratory-generated human skin melanoma model containing early melanocytic lesion or advanced stage melanoma cell lines and in animals containing invasive xenografted human melanoma. Repeated topical application of ISC-4 reduced tumor cell expansion in the skin model by 80% to 90% and decreased tumor development in animals by approximately 80%. Histologic examination of ISC-4-treated skin showed no obvious damage to skin cells or skin morphology, and treated animals did not exhibit markers indicative of major organ-related toxicity. Mechanistically, ISC-4 prevented melanoma by decreasing Akt3 signaling that lead to a 3-fold increase in apoptosis rates. Thus, topical ISC-4 can delay or slow down melanocytic lesion or melanoma development in preclinical models and could impact melanoma incidence rates if similar results are observed in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-258
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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