Background and aims: In many malignant tumors, intratumoral microvascular density (MVD) has been suggested to be a prognostic parameter. We aimed to provide a quantitative evaluation of intratumoral microvascular density in a large series of resected endocrine tumors of the pancreas and to evaluate the potential prognostic significance of this parameter.
Methods: Eighty-two tumors from 77 patients have been studied. MVD was evaluated by 2 observers after CD34 immunostaining and correlated with the following parameters: WHO classification, hormonal profile, tumor size, vascular endothelial growth factor expression, occurrence of metastasis, duration of survival.
Results: MVD ranged from 5 to 92 vessels/field. MVD was significantly higher in well-differentiated benign endocrine tumors than in tumors of uncertain behavior and in carcinomas. No close correlation was found between MVD and the hormonal profile. MVD was significantly higher in tumors characterized by the following histoprognostic parameters: size <2 cm, proliferation index <2%, no evidence of metastasis. No close correlation was observed between MVD and VEGF expression. Finally, a MVD <30 vessels/field was associated with the occurrence of metastasis in tumors <2 cm and/or with a proliferation index <2% and with a significantly shorter survival after surgery.
Conclusions: The quantitative analysis of microvessel density in pancreatic endocrine tumors may identify patients who, despite favorable conventional histoprognostic factors, are at risk of unfavorable evolution.