Aim: To study the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and VEGF-C and to determine whether the presence of VEGF-A and VEGF-C was associated with the clinicopathologic characteristics of pancreatic cancer.
Methods: VEGF-A and VEGF-C mRNA transcripts were examined by Northern blot in 6 human pancreatic cancer cell lines and 8 normal pancreatic tissues and 8 pancreatic carcinoma specimens. The expression of VEGF-A and VEGF-C proteins was examined by Western blot in the tested cell lines and by immunohistochemical stain in 50 pancreatic carcinoma samples.
Results: VEGF-A and VEGF-C mRNA transcripts were present in all the 6 human pancreatic cancer cell lines. Immunoblotting revealed the presence of VEGF-A and VEGF-C proteins in all the cell lines. Northern blot analysis of total RNA revealed 3.0-fold and 3.6-fold increase in VEGF-A and VEGF-C mRNA transcript in the cancer samples, respectively. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed the expression of VEGF-A and VEGF-C in cancer cells within the tumor mass. Immunohistochemical analysis of 50 pancreatic cancer tissue samples revealed the presence of VEGF-A and VEGF-C immunoreactivity in 50% and 80% of the cancer tissue samples, respectively. The presence of VEGF-A in these cells was associated with larger tumor size and enhanced local spread (c2 = 6.690, P = 0.035<0.05) but was not associated with decreased patient survival. However, the presence of VEGF-C in the cancer cells was associated with increased lymph node metastasis (c2 = 5.710, P = 0.017 < 0.05), but was not associated with decreased patient survival. There was no correlation between the expression of VEGF-A and VEGF-C in the same cancer cells.
Conclusion: VEGF-A and VEGF-C are commonly overexpressed in human pancreatic cancer and may contribute to tumor growth and lymph node metastasis. There is no relationship between the expression of VEGF-A and VEGF-C in pancreatic cancer.