Association of p53 mutations, microvessel density and neoangiogenesis in pairs of colorectal cancers and corresponding liver metastases

Int J Oncol. 2002 Aug;21(2):243-9. doi: 10.3892/ijo.21.2.243.


p53 suppressor gene mutations are a well known step which occurs in the late stages of the complex tumourigenesis of colorectal cancer. A deregulation of p53 protein function may be associated with increased neovascularization and aggressive tumour growth. In vitro studies have shown that these genetic alterations cause a loss of wild-type p53-induced anti-angiogenetic control and could possibly induce expression of the neoangiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Therefore, this in vivo study was performed to assess p53 mutations, i.e. hot spots in exons 4-9, in primary colorectal cancers and in corresponding liver metastases in order to test whether there is an association between p53 mutated tumours with increased microvessel density (MVD) and VEGF overexpression. Twenty-two tissue samples taken from primary colorectal cancers and the corresponding liver metastases were immediately snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen and fixed in formaldehyde. After DNA extraction exons 4-9 were amplified and directly sequenced. Cryostat sections were stained immunohistochemically using antibodies against VEGF, CD34, and p53 protein. A modified semiquantitative Weidner score and interactive computerized image analysis was used to assess MVD. Overexpression of immunohistochemically detected p53 protein was found in 7 of the 11 primary tumours and liver metastases (64%). Sequencing showed 3 out of 11 primary tumours (27%) and 5 out of 11 liver metastases (46%) to have p53 point or frameshift mutations; these samples tested immunohistochemically positive for p53 protein. Two p53 mutations in samples of liver metastases were not detectable in the corresponding primaries. We detected one frameshift mutation in exon 4 that has not yet been described in the literature. Tumour samples with p53 mutations and increased VEGF immunoreactivity were associated with higher MVD (p<0.01 and p<0.05, respectively). However, there was no association detected immunohistochemically between p53 and MVD as well as p53 mutations and VEGF overexpression. Our data demonstrate specific genetic alterations in the coding regions of p53 suppressor gene in both primary colorectal cancers and corresponding liver metastases, these alterations are associated with an increase in MVD, but not in VEGF overexpression. In addition, a novel frameshift mutation in both colorectal cancer and metastasis is described.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Exons / genetics
  • Female
  • Frameshift Mutation*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lymphokines / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prognosis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Antigens, CD34
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lymphokines
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors