Importance of vascular phenotype by basic fibroblast growth factor, and influence of the angiogenic factors basic fibroblast growth factor/fibroblast growth factor receptor-1 and ephrin-A1/EphA2 on melanoma progression

Am J Pathol. 2002 Mar;160(3):1009-19. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)64922-X.


The expression of several angiogenic factors and receptors was examined in a series of vertical growth phase cutaneous melanomas using high-throughput tissue microarray technology and immunohistochemistry. The results were correlated with microvessel density, clinicopathological features, and patient survival. Expression of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) was significantly associated with increased microvessel density. Also, we found an independent prognostic importance of vascular phenotype by endothelial cell expression of bFGF; cases with positive vessels had the best prognosis and these tumors revealed a low frequency of vascular invasion (14%) when compared with bFGF-negative vessels (47%). This bFGF-negative phenotype was significantly increased in metastatic lesions. Strong tumor cell expression of FLT-4, ephrin-A1, and EphA2 was associated with increased melanoma thickness, and ephrin-A1 staining was related to decreased survival (P = 0.039). Expression of EphA2 in tumor cells was associated with increased tumor cell proliferation (Ki-67 positivity), indicating possible autocrine growth stimulation. Thus, our findings indicate the presence of phenotypic diversity among tumor-associated vessels, and subgroups defined by bFGF expression may be of clinical importance. bFGF was associated with microvessel density, whereas the ephrin-A1/EphA2 pathway might also be important for tumor cell proliferation and patient survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor*
  • Ephrin-A1
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Melanoma / blood supply*
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Receptor, EphA2
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Survival Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Ephrin-A1
  • Proteins
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • FGFR1 protein, human
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, EphA2
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1