VEGFR-3 expression in breast cancer tissue is not restricted to lymphatic vessels

Pathol Res Pract. 2005;201(2):93-9. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2004.11.008.


We examined the immunohistochemical reactivity for vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3), a protein playing an important role in lymphangiogenesis, in breast cancer. A retrospective series of 77 invasive ductal breast carcinomas was investigated. The relationship between VEGFR-3 expression and clinicopathologic parameters was examined for statistical significance using Pearson's chi-square (chi2) test and Fisher's exact test (when n<5). Threshold for significance was p<0.05. Patient age ranged from 31 to 77 years (mean: 55 years). The VEGFR-3 immunoreactivity was as follows: 5 cases were negative (6.5%), 35 + (45.4%), 27+ + (35.1%), and 10+ + + (13.0%). Reactions were positive for both lymphatic and blood vessels in several cases. VEGFR-3-positive reactions were more frequent in the tumor periphery than within the tumor. Immunoreactivity was also observed in myoepithelial cells surrounding both normal ducts and ducts with ductal carcinoma in situ. Statistical analysis of VEGFR-3 reactions was not significantly related to node status, microvessel density, and tumor grade. Ploidy showed a tendency towards significance (p=0.063); however, owing to the limited number of cases, statistical significance was not reached. VEGFR-3 lacks lymphatic vessel specificity and is also expressed in blood vessels, myoepithelial cells, and neoplastic cells.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphatic Vessels / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-3 / biosynthesis*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-3