Expression of activated signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 predicts expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in and angiogenic phenotype of human gastric cancer

Weida Gong, Liwei Wang, James C Yao, Jaffer A Ajani, Daoyan Wei, Kenneth D Aldape, Keping Xie, Raymond Sawaya, Suyun Huang
Clinical Cancer Research 2005 February 15, 11 (4): 1386-93

PURPOSE: Angiogenic behavior is a critical aspect of cancer biology and subject to regulation by multiple molecular pathways. Because the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) transcription factor regulates multiple genes important to angiogenesis, we sought to determine whether Stat3 expression is related to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression and microvessel density (MVD) in gastric cancer and whether these factors predict survival in gastric cancer patients.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The expression of Stat3 and VEGF was determined by immunohistochemistry using archival tissues from 86 cases of resected human gastric cancer and confirmed by Western blot analysis. Angiogenic phenotype was determined by CD34 staining and microvessel counting.

RESULTS: Stat3 expression correlated with VEGF expression and MVD. In univariate survival analyses, Stat3 expression (P = 0.013) and MVD (P = 0.036) were associated with inferior survival. However, when Stat3 expression, VEGF expression, MVD, stage, completeness of resection, Lauren's histologic classification, and age were entered into a Cox proportional hazards model, only strong Stat3 expression (P = 0.049) and advanced stage (P < 0.01) were independently prognostic of poor survival. Furthermore, genetically enforced alterations of activated Stat3 expression led to altered VEGF expression and angiogenic potential in human gastric cancer cells.

CONCLUSION: Dysregulated Stat3 activation may play an important role in VEGF overexpression and elevated angiogenic phenotype in gastric cancer and contribute to gastric cancer development and progression.

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