Vascular endothelial growth factor in renal cell carcinoma
Abstract: Background. Angiogenesis is essential for tumour growth. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its isoforms were investigated in relation to the clinical course in a large number of patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC).Methods. RCC subtypes and behaviour were established by clinicopathological criteria and surveillance. VEGF expression was analysed in serum by enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay (ELISA) and in tumour tissue by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), immunohistochemistry (IHC), and Western blot (WB).Results. Serum VEGF (S-VEGF) was increased in RCC compared to control group. S-VEGF correlated with tumour stage and grade and was associated with survival in men but not in women. S-VEGF correlated with blood platelet counts, which were inversely correlated to increasing age in women, and they were decreased in chronically medicated patients, particularly in men. In contrast to S-VEGF, platelet counts associated with survival only in patients free of medication and chronic diseases. RT-PCR showed a correlation between VEGF121/VEGF165 mRNA and between VEGF165/VEGF-R1 mRNA. There was no association between different VEGF mRNA isoforms and S-VEGF. Conventional renal cell carcinoma (CRCC) had higher VEGF165, VEGF121, and VEGF-R1 mRNA levels compared with papillary renal cell carcinoma (PRCC). IHC VEGF staining was strong in kidney cortex. Kidney tumour showed a considerable variation in cytoplasmatic VEGF expression, which correlated with tumour size. Although, there was no difference in VEGF expression between the RCC types, VEGF expression was associated with survival only in CRCC. WB showed a strong protein expression of both VEGF189 and VEGF165 in kidney cortex. In kidney tumour, expression of VEGF189 varied the most, VEGF165 less so, and VEGF121 was rarely detected. Both CRCC and PRCC expressed low levels of VEGF189 and VEGF165 compared with kidney cortex. Chromophobe renal cell carcinoma (ChRCC) expressed VEGF189 levels comparable to those from kidney cortex, while VEGF165 was lower. In PRCC and ChRCC, VEGF189 levels correlated inversely with advancing tumour stage, and in PRCC, VEGF165 levels correlated inversely with increasing tumour size. VEGF189 was an independent prognostic factor for survival in patients with PRCC.Conclusions. S-VEGF has a stronger association to progression in RCC than platelet count. CRCC showed high levels of VEGF mRNA isoforms and VEGF-R1 mRNA compared to PRCC. VEGF mRNA isoforms expression decreased with advancing stage. IHC demonstrated VEGF expression in cell cytoplasm related to tumour growth, particular in CRCC. Different VEGF isoform patterns were found in different RCC types. Protein VEGF189 expression was associated with tumour stage and was an independent prognostic factor in PRCC. Protein VEGF165 expression was generally low and had no prognostic value. The trend for decreasing levels of VEGF isoforms in advanced tumour stages may indicate that angiogenic activity is an early event in tumour growth induced by VEGF, but that during later tumour progression the role of VEGF is less clear.
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