Vascular endothelial growth factors and receptors in colorectal cancer: implications for anti-angiogenic therapy

Eur J Cancer. 2006 Jan;42(1):112-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2005.09.018.


There are conflicting associations between growth factor expression and clinicopathological variables in colorectal cancer. This study aimed to define the expression of members of the VEGF family and the receptor, VEGFR2, in primary and metastatic sites of colorectal cancer and their relationship to metastatic potential. Thirty colorectal cancers, 12 lymph node metastases and 9 liver metastases were immunostained for VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGF-D and VEGFR2. VEGFR2 was expressed by endothelial cells and by the malignant epithelium. VEGF-C and VEGFR2 were co-expressed in the same territory and correlated throughout the primary tumour and in metastatic lymph nodes, but not in liver metastases. Their expression at the invasive tumour edge correlated with expression in metastatic nodes. The benefit of anti-VEGF antibodies might be increased by directing additional therapies against VEGF-C or against the kinase receptors to target redundancy in the system. A component of the therapeutic benefit might be due to a direct anti-tumour effect as well as an anti-angiogenic effect.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors / metabolism*


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2