Vascular endothelial growth factors C and D represent novel prognostic markers in colorectal carcinoma using quantitative image analysis

W-G Hu, J-W Li, B Feng, M Beveridge, F Yue, A-G Lu, J-J Ma, M-L Wang, Y Guo, X-L Jin, M-H Zheng
European Surgical Research. Europäische Chirurgische Forschung. Recherches Chirurgicales Européennes 2007, 39 (4): 229-38

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) and vascular endothelial growth factor D (VEGF-D) are potent lymphangiogenic and angiogenetic mediators in many kinds of tumors. However, the exact impacts of VEGF-C and VEGF-D on the prognosis of colorectal cancer (CRC) remain elusive. The aims of this study were to demonstrate the expression of VEGF-C and VEGF-D and to correlate their expression levels with clinicopathological factors and long-term survival in patients with CRC.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between January 1996 and January 1998, 69 patients with pathologically confirmed CRC who received routine follow-up at the Ruijin Hospital were included in this study. VEGF-C and VEGF-D protein expression and microvessel density of 69 surgical specimens were assessed by immunohistochemistry, with 20 samples of normal colorectal tissues as controls. All patients were followed up for 108 months or until death. The Immunohistochemical stains were quantified and analyzed by means of a Zeiss Axioplan 2 imaging analysis system.

RESULTS: The protein expression of VEGF-C and VEGF-D in tumor tissues was much higher than that in normal colorectal tissues (p < 0.01). The VEGF-C expression significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis (p = 0.011) and clinical stages of CRC (p < 0.01). The VEGF-D expression correlated with patient ages (p = 0.013), depth of tumor invasion (p = 0.013), and lymph node metastasis (p = 0.028). The expression of VEGF-C and VEGF-D was significantly correlated with the microvessel density. Both overall survival and disease-free survival at 108 months were significantly lower in the CRC patients with a high VEGF-C and/or a high VEGF-D expression, and the patients with a high expression of both VEGF-C and VEGF-D had the shortest overall survival and disease-free survival when compared with other patients.

CONCLUSION: The VEGF-C or VEGF-D expression was significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis and long-term prognosis and could be applied as prognostic markers in CRC.

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