Aims: Tumour vascularity and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression were studied in 41 primary brain tumours of astrocytic and oligodendroglial origin, in order to define the potential role of VEGF in the vascularization and growth of these tumours.
Methods and results: Two commercial monoclonal antibodies to the VEGF protein (from R&D Systems and NeoMarkers), raised against different isoforms, were utilized. Each monoclonal antibody consistently detected the expression of VEGF in different cell types. The R&D Systems antibody only produced surface staining of endothelial cells in tumour capillaries, whereas staining with the Neomarkers antibody was largely confined to tumour cell cytoplasm. High levels of staining were seen with the R&D Systems and NeoMarkers antibodies in 13 and 14 of 15 glioblastomas, respectively, four and three of five oligodendrogliomas, four and seven of 10 anaplastic astrocytomas, one and three of six low-grade astrocytomas and none and none of five pilocytic astrocytomas. There was a close correlation between VEGF expression, tumour vascularity and grade.
Conclusions: These findings support a role for VEGF in the angiogenesis of glioblastoma, anaplastic astrocytoma and oligodendroglioma. The distinct immunoreactivities of the two commercial monoclonal antibodies indicate either there is expression of different splice variants of VEGF or that the epitopes are differentially revealed during synthesis, secretion and receptor-binding of the growth factor. This highlights the importance of using more than one antibody in the evaluation of tissue VEGF expression.