Serum interleukin 6, plasma VEGF, serum VEGF, and VEGF platelet load in breast cancer patients

Clin Breast Cancer. 2002 Jan;2(4):311-5. doi: 10.3816/cbc.2002.n.008.


Serum and plasma concentrations of vascular endothelial growth factor (sVEGF and pVEGF), serum concentrations of interleukin 6 (IL-6), and VEGF platelet load (VEGF/pl) in the blood of healthy controls (n = 26), breast cancer patients with locoregional disease (n = 31), and patients with progressive advanced disease (n = 73) have been compared. The 95th percentile values for the control population were 250 pg/mL for sVEGF, 30 pg/mL for pVEGF, and 1.6 pg/mL for IL-6. The 95th percentile value of the calculated VEGF/pl was 1.0 pg/10(6) platelets in the control population. Serum VEGF concentrations correlated with platelet number in all the groups. Patients with thrombocytosis had a median sVEGF concentration of 833 pg/mL, compared to 249 pg/mL in other patients (P = 0.018). Serum IL-6 levels correlated with sVEGF levels and with the calculated VEGF/pl. Serum IL-6 concentration was significantly higher in patients with breast cancer compared to healthy controls (P < 0.0001). Median IL-6 serum levels were nearly 10 times higher in patients with metastatic breast cancer as compared to the those with locoregional disease (6.0 pg/mL versus 0.7 pg/mL, respectively). Plasma VEGF and the VEGF/pl were also significantly different in the 3 groups. The ratio between sVEGF and pVEGF tended to be smaller in the metastatic breast cancer group compared to the patients with locoregional disease (median, 7.5 versus 10.1, respectively; P = 0.066), suggestive of more intravasal platelet degranulation in the former group. Serum IL-6 level is the most discriminative factor separating healthy controls and the locoregional and metastatic breast cancer patient groups. These results suggest a role for tumor-derived IL-6 in regulating VEGF expression in platelets and their precursors and also confirm the role of circulating platelets in the storage of VEGF.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / chemistry*
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / analysis*
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / blood*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Lymphokines / analysis*
  • Lymphokines / blood*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Plasma / chemistry*
  • Platelet Count*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lymphokines
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors