Expression of thrombospondin-1 in pancreatic carcinoma: correlation with microvessel density

Virchows Arch. 2001 Feb;438(2):116-20. doi: 10.1007/s004280000302.


Thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) is a multifunctional platelet and extracellular matrix protein that is involved in angiogenesis. Under certain pathological conditions, e.g., malignant tumors, high concentrations of TSP-1 work as an angiogenic agonist. Here we examined 98 pancreatic carcinomas with respect to TSP-1 immunoreactivity and its correlation to intratumoral microvessel density (MVD), a representation of the overall degree of angiogenesis in carcinomas. Northern blot analysis for TSP-1 mRNA was performed in seven additional cases. Eighty-seven tumors showed strong TSP-1 immunoreactivity, nine carcinomas were only weakly positive, and two lesions were negative for TSP-1. TSP-1 immunoreactivity was detected in the extracellular matrix, mostly at the invasion front of the tumor. Using Northern blot analysis, we observed high levels of TSP-1 mRNA in three out of seven pancreatic carcinomas. The mean MVD in pancreatic carcinoma was 38.8 vessels per mm2. Tumors with a high expression of TSP-1 showed a higher MVD and the correlation between TSP-1 immunoreactivity and microvessel density was highly significant (P=0.003). As a modulator of angiogenesis, TSP-1 is strongly expressed in most pancreatic adenocarcinomas and is likely to contribute to the extensive neovascularization and spread of this highly aggressive tumor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood supply*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Thrombospondin 1 / genetics
  • Thrombospondin 1 / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Thrombospondin 1