Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been identified as the substance that increases the permeability and proliferation of vascular endothelial cells. We examined the clinical significance of VEGF expression in 60 head and neck squamous cell carcinomas using the methods of Western blot, immunohistochemistry, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), comparatively, and analysed the relationship between VEGF status in Western blot and tumour size, lymph-node status, histologic grade and disease-free survival (DFS) rate. Western blot analysis revealed high VEGF expressors (tumour/normal tissue density >/= 3-fold) in 26 patients (43%) and low VEGF expressors (< 3-fold) in 34 patients (57%). The results of the Western blot analysis correlated significantly with those of the RT-PCR (P = 0.00007) or immunohistochemistry (P = 0. 00006). High VEGF expressors are associated with the progression of lymph-node spread (P = 0.0009), which are correlated with poor DFS. The 2-year DFS rate of high VEGF expressors (30%) was significantly lower than that of low VEGF expressors (78%) (P = 0.0008). Multivariate analysis showed VEGF expression and stage were independent predictors for the DFS (P = 0.045 and 0.041, respectively). VEGF expression may play an important role in progression of HNSCC.
Copyright 2000 Cancer Research Campaign.