Autocrine pathways of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in glioblastoma multiforme: clinical relevance of radiation-induced increase of VEGF levels

J Neurooncol. 2004 Jan;66(1-2):129-38. doi: 10.1023/b:neon.0000013495.08168.8f.


In tumour-induced angiogenesis of gliomas, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptors fms-like tyrosine kinase (Flt-1) and kinase-insert-domain-containing receptor (KDR) play a major role and are promising targets for tumour therapy. Nevertheless, preliminary results of such therapies could not prove clinical efficacy and thus make a profound knowledge of VEGF regulation essential. Based on earlier results, which demonstrated an inhibitory influence of VEGF on Flt-1-expressing glioblastoma cells, in the present study we focused on the extent of VEGF and VEGF receptor coexpression and possible therapeutical consequences. Protein expression of VEGF, Flt-1 and KDR was analysed by immunohistochemistry in native tumour tissues of 63 glioblastomas. VEGF could be detected in all glioblastomas. Additionally and independently to the expected Flt-1 and KDR expression in tumour endothelia, we found a coexpression of VEGF with Flt-1 in tumour cells of 46 and with KDR in 45 glioblastomas. After exposure of glioblastoma cells to X-ray radiation we observed a strong dose-dependent increase of VEGF secretion in two glioblastoma cell cultures by up to 46% and 96%, respectively that originated from an increased VEGF mRNA expression. In contrast, under the same conditions secretion of HGF/SF was only slightly elevated and bFGF despite being strongly increased remained at very low overall amounts compared to VEGF. Based on previous data on an autocrine function of VEGF in Flt-1-expressing glioblastoma cells we hypothesise that the X-ray radiation induced upregulation of VEGF might result in a downregulation of tumour cell proliferation and thus lead to a reduced sensitivity to radiation therapy. Therefore our results support the idea that a combination of anti-VEGF and radiation therapy might prove a promising new option in fighting against one of the most fatal tumour types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autocrine Communication / radiation effects*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Glioblastoma / radiotherapy*
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 / metabolism


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • FLT1 protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2