Aim: To establish the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the oncogenesis of human gastric carcinoma more directly.
Methods: The expression of VEGF and its receptor kinase-domain insert containing receptor (KDR) in human gastric cancer tissue were observed by immunohistochemical staining. VEGF levels were manipulated in human gastric cancer cell using eukaryotic expression constructs designed to express the complete VEGF(165) complimentary DNA in either the sense or antisense orientation. The biological changes of the cells were observed in which VEGF was up-regulated or down-regulated.
Results: VEGF-positive rate was 50%, and VEGF was mainly localized in the cytoplasm and membrane of the tumor cells, while KDR was mainly located in the membrane of vascular endothelial cells in gastric cancer tissues and peri-cancerous tissue. In 2 cases of 50 specimens, the gastric cancer cells expressed KDR, localized in both the cytoplasm and membrane. Introduction of VEGF(165) antisense into human gastric cancer cells (SGC-7901, immunofluorescence intensity, 31.6%)) resulted in a significant reduction in VEGF-specific messenger RNA and total and cell surface VEGF protein (immunofluorescence intensity, 8.9%) (P<0.05). Conversely, stable integration of VEGF(165) in the sense orientation resulted in an increase in cellular and cell surface VEGF (immunofluorescence intensity, 75.4%) (P<0.05). Lowered VEGF levels were associated with a marked decrease in the growth of nude mouse xenografted tumor (at 33 days postimplantation, tumor volume: 345.40 +/- 136.31 mm3)(P<0.05 vs control SGC-7901 group: 1534.40 +/- 362.88 mm3), whereas up-regulation of VEGF resulted in increased xenografted tumor size (at 33 days postimplantation, tumor volume: 2350.50 +/- 637.70 mm3) (P<0.05 vs control SGC-7901 group).
Conclusion: This study provides direct evidence that VEGF plays an important role in the oncogenesis of human gastric cancer.