The potential use of aqueous humor for risk stratification in UM

A recent study shows that the analysis of the liquid produced inside of the eye, the aqueous humor, could help to stratify the risk of disease progression in patients with uveal melanoma.

The potential use of aqueous humor for risk stratification in UM

 

A recent study shows that the analysis of the liquid produced inside of the eye, the aqueous humor, could help to stratify the risk of disease progression in patients with uveal melanoma.

UM originates in a specific layer of the eye, the uvea, which is responsible for the nourishment of the structures inside of the eye. The aqueous humor is a clear liquid produced in a specific part of the uvea that is called the ciliary body, and besides helping to maintain eye shape, the aqueous humor also has nutrients and different components in its constitution.

Uveal melanoma, although rare, is the most common cancer that arises in the eye. By analyzing UM cells in the laboratory (obtained through a biopsy), we can assess the risk of developing metastatic disease quite accurately. However, despite being considered a safe technique, a biopsy is a surgical procedure that might be associated with some complications.

In this study, a very small amount of aqueous humor was retrieved to study its composition. Liquid biopsies that use a similar technique are already used for other types of ocular cancers, such as retinoblastoma and intraocular lymphoma.

The information obtained from a liquid biopsy might, therefore, be used for assessing the risk of having a progressive disease, selection of patients to participate in adjuvant trials, or selection for participation in intensified screening programs for early detection of metastases.

The group at Leiden University found out that an increased number of inflammatory cells in the aqueous humor of patients with UM was associated with more aggressive tumors, confirmed by biopsy results of the tumor itself.

In the future, as we learn more about UM features, patients might be advised to undergo a liquid biopsy in order to obtain the same information as a tumor biopsy provides us currently.