Intra-tumoural microvessel density in human solid tumours

Br J Cancer. 2002 May 20;86(10):1566-77. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6600315.


Over the last decade assessment of angiogenesis has emerged as a potentially useful biological prognostic and predictive factor in human solid tumours. With the development of highly specific endothelial markers that can be assessed in histological archival specimens, several quantitative studies have been performed in various solid tumours. The majority of published studies have shown a positive correlation between intra-tumoural microvessel density, a measure of tumour angiogenesis, and prognosis in solid tumours. A minority of studies have not demonstrated an association and this may be attributed to significant differences in the methodologies employed for sample selection, immunostaining techniques, vessel counting and statistical analysis, although a number of biological differences may account for the discrepancy. In this review we evaluate the quantification of angiogenesis by immunohistochemistry, the relationship between tumour vascularity and metastasis, and the clinicopathological studies correlating intra-tumoral microvessel density with prognosis and response to anti-cancer therapy. In view of the extensive nature of this retrospective body of data, comparative studies are needed to identify the optimum technique and endothelial antigens (activated or pan-endothelial antigens) but subsequently prospective studies that allocate treatment on the basis of microvessel density are required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / biosynthesis
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphokines / biosynthesis
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / analysis
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thymidine Phosphorylase / biosynthesis
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / analysis
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Lymphokines
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Thymidine Phosphorylase
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator