Background: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a recently identified growth factor with significant angiogenic properties, is a multifunctional angiogenic cytokine that is expressed in many tumors. High VEGF expression has been shown to correlate with the incidence of metastasis and poor prognosis in various cancers. In this study, the authors investigated VEGF expression and microvessel density (MVD) in ductal pancreatic adenocarcinoma and examined the correlations among VEGF expression, clinicopathologic factors, and clinical outcome. The authors especially focused on the correlation between VEGF expression and liver metastasis.
Methods: Paraffin embedded tumor specimens of 142 surgically resected pancreas carcinoma were immunohistochemically stained for VEGF and MVD. The correlations among VEGF expression and MVD, clinicopathologic factors, and clinical outcome were then statistically analyzed.
Results: One hundred thirty-two (93%) of 142 ductal pancreatic adenocarcinomas were positive for VEGF protein by immunohistochemistry. A significant correlation was observed between VEGF positivity and MVD (P < 0.0001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated a significant association between high VEGF expression and liver metastasis (P = 0.010) but no other factors, such as age, tumor size, histologic type, lymph node metastasis, venous invasion, neural invasion, peritoneal metastasis, or local recurrence. Patients with tumors that showed moderate or high VEGF expression had significantly shorter survival than patients with low VEGF expression or none at all in their tumors (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: These results indicate that VEGF expression is closely correlated with MVD and seems to be an important predictor for both liver metastasis and poor prognosis in ductal pancreatic adenocarcinoma.