Neo-angiogenesis during neoplastic growth involves endothelial mitogenic and migration stimuli produced by cancer or tumour stromal cells. Although this active angiogenesis takes place in the tumour periphery, the process of vessel growth and survival in inner areas and its clinical role remain largely unexplored. The present study compared the microvessel score (MS) as well as the single endothelial cell score (ECS) in the invading edge and in inner areas of non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs). Three different patterns of vascular growth were distinguished: the edvin (edge vs. inner) type 1, where a low MS was observed in both peripheral and inner tumour areas; the edvin type 2, where a high MS was noted in the invading front but a low MS in inner areas; and the edvin type 3, where both peripheral and inner tumour areas had a high MS. The ECS was high in the invading edge in edvin type 2 and 3 cases and was sharply decreased in both types in inner areas, suggesting that endothelial cell migration is unlikely to contribute to the angiogenic process in areas away from the tumour front. Expression of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and of thymidine phosphorylase (TP) was associated with a high MS in the invading edge. VEGF was associated with a high MS in inner areas (edvin 3), while TP expression was associated with edvin type 2, showing that VEGF (and not TP) contributes to the preservation of the inner vasculature. Both edvin type 2 and 3 cases showed an increased incidence of node metastasis, but edvin type 3 cases had a poorer prognosis, even in the N1-stage group. The present study suggests that tumour factors regulating angiogenesis and vascular survival are not identical. A possible method is reported to quantify these two parameters by comparing the MS in the invading edge and inner areas (edvin types). This observation may contribute to the evaluation of the effectiveness of different therapeutic approaches, namely vascular targeting vs. anti-angiogenesis.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.