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      Prognostic significance of vascular endothelial cell growth factors -A, -C and -D in breast cancer and their relationship with angio- and lymphangiogenesis


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          Vascular endothelial cell growth factors (VEGF)-A, -C and -D have potent angio and lymphangiogenic functions in experimental models, although their role in the progression of human breast cancer is unclear. The aims of the current study were to examine the relationship between the expression of the aforementioned growth factors with the angio and lymphangiogenic characteristics of breast cancer, and to assess their suitability as potential prognostic factors. Paraffin-embedded sections of 177 primary invasive breast cancer, with complete clinical follow-up information for 10 years, were stained for VEGF-A, -C, -D, podoplanin and CD34 using standard immunohistochemical approaches. The expression of the growth factors was correlated with clinicopathological criteria and patients' survival. Lymph vessel density (LVD) and microvessel density (MVD) were assessed and correlated with expression of the growth factors. Vascular endothelial cell growth factor-A, -C and -D were highly expressed in 40, 37 and 42% of specimens, respectively. High expression of VEGF-A and - C, but not of -D, was associated with a higher LVD ( P=0.013 and P=0.014, respectively), a higher MVD ( P<0.001 and P=0.002, respectively), the presence of lymph node metastasis ( P<0.001 and P<0.001, respectively), distant metastasis ( P=0.010 and P=0.008, respectively) and a shorter Overall Survival ( P=0.029 and 0.028, respectively). In conclusion, breast cancers that express high levels of VEGF-A and -C are characterised by a poor prognosis, likely through the induction of angio and lymphangiogenesis. Examination of expression of VEGF-A and -C in breast cancer may be beneficial in the identification of a subset of tumours that have a higher probability of recurrence and metastatic spread.

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          Role of the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway in tumor growth and angiogenesis.

          New blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) is a fundamental event in the process of tumor growth and metastatic dissemination. Hence, the molecular basis of tumor angiogenesis has been of keen interest in the field of cancer research. The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway is well established as one of the key regulators of this process. The VEGF/VEGF-receptor axis is composed of multiple ligands and receptors with overlapping and distinct ligand-receptor binding specificities, cell-type expression, and function. Activation of the VEGF-receptor pathway triggers a network of signaling processes that promote endothelial cell growth, migration, and survival from pre-existing vasculature. In addition, VEGF mediates vessel permeability, and has been associated with malignant effusions. More recently, an important role for VEGF has emerged in mobilization of endothelial progenitor cells from the bone marrow to distant sites of neovascularization. The well-established role of VEGF in promoting tumor angiogenesis and the pathogenesis of human cancers has led to the rational design and development of agents that selectively target this pathway. Studies with various anti-VEGF/VEGF-receptor therapies have shown that these agents can potently inhibit angiogenesis and tumor growth in preclinical models. Recently, an anti-VEGF antibody (bevacizumab), when used in combination with chemotherapy, was shown to significantly improve survival and response rates in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer and thus, validate VEGF pathway inhibitors as an important new treatment modality in cancer therapy.
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            The biology of vascular endothelial growth factor.

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              Vascular endothelial growth factor-C-mediated lymphangiogenesis promotes tumour metastasis.

              Metastasis is a frequent and lethal complication of cancer. Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) is a recently described lymphangiogenic factor. Increased expression of VEGF-C in primary tumours correlates with dissemination of tumour cells to regional lymph nodes. However, a direct role for VEGF-C in tumour lymphangiogenesis and subsequent metastasis has yet to be demonstrated. Here we report the establishment of transgenic mice in which VEGF-C expression, driven by the rat insulin promoter (Rip), is targeted to beta-cells of the endocrine pancreas. In contrast to wild-type mice, which lack peri-insular lymphatics, RipVEGF-C transgenics develop an extensive network of lymphatics around the islets of Langerhans. These mice were crossed with Rip1Tag2 mice, which develop pancreatic beta-cell tumours that are neither lymphangiogenic nor metastatic. Double-transgenic mice formed tumours surrounded by well developed lymphatics, which frequently contained tumour cell masses of beta-cell origin. These mice frequently developed pancreatic lymph node metastases. Our findings demonstrate that VEGF-C-induced lymphangiogenesis mediates tumour cell dissemination and the formation of lymph node metastases.

                Author and article information

                Br J Cancer
                British Journal of Cancer
                Nature Publishing Group
                13 March 2007
                03 April 2007
                10 April 2007
                : 96
                : 7
                : 1092-1100
                [1 ]Department of Clinical Oncology, University Hospitals, City Hospital Campus, University of Nottingham Hucknall Road, NG5 1PB, Nottingham, UK
                [2 ]Histopathology Departments, University Hospitals, City Hospital Campus, University of Nottingham Hucknall Road, NG5 1PB, Nottingham, UK
                Author notes
                [* ]Author for correspondence: stewart.martin@ 123456nottingham.ac.uk
                Copyright 2007, Cancer Research UK
                Molecular Diagnostics

                Oncology & Radiotherapy
                angiogenesis,lymphangiogenesis,vegf-a,breast cancer,vegf-c,vascular endothelial cell growth factors,vegf-d


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