It has previously been suggested that in human brain tumours, endothelial cell proliferation during angiogenesis is regulated by a paracrine mechanism involving vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptors (VEGF receptor 1 and VEGF receptor 2). The mechanism of growth factor up-regulation is based on hypoxic activation of mRNA expression and mRNA stabilization and genetic events, leading to an increase of growth factor gene expression. The role of the other newly discovered VEGF family members with a high specificity for endothelial cells in the pathogenesis of glial neoplasms is unknown. To investigate which other members of the VEGF family are overexpressed in human brain tumours, the mRNA levels of placenta growth factor (PlGF), VEGF-A, and VEGF-B genes were determined by northern blot analysis in surgically obtained human meningiomas. In the 16 meningiomas examined, the mRNA for PlGF was highly expressed in four tumours and VEGF-A mRNA was highly abundant in three tumour samples. There was no close correlation between PlGF mRNA levels and VEGF-A expression levels. VEGF-B mRNA was abundantly expressed in all tumour samples at uniform levels. In a PlGF-positive tumour sample, immunoreactive VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 were detected in endothelial cells of the blood vessels. PlGF protein was detectable in most but not all capillaries of the tumour. PlGF is thus highly up-regulated in a subset of human meningiomas and may therefore have functions, in some tumour vessels, connected to endothelial cell maturation and tube formation. These findings suggest that PlGF, in addition to VEGF-A, may be another positive factor in tumour angiogenesis in human meningiomas.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.