Microvessel density and VEGF expression are prognostic factors in colorectal cancer. Meta-analysis of the literature

Br J Cancer. 2006 Jun 19;94(12):1823-32. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6603176.


We performed a meta-analysis of all published studies relating intratumoural microvessel density (MVD) (45 studies) or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression (27 studies), both reflecting angiogenesis, to relapse free (RFS) and overall survival (OS) in colorectal cancer (CRC). For each study, MVD impact was measured by risk ratio between the two survival distributions with median MVD as cutoff. Eleven studies did not mention survival data or fit inclusion criteria, six were multiple publications of same series, leaving 32 independent studies for MVD (3496 patients) and 18 for VEGF (2050 patients). Microvessel density was assessed by immunohistochemistry, using antibodies against factor VIII (16 studies), CD31 (10 studies) or CD34 (seven studies). Vascular endothelial growth factor expression was mostly assessed by immunohistochemistry. Statistics were performed for MVD in 22 studies (the others lacking survival statistics) including nine studies (n = 957) for RFS and 18 for OS (n = 2383) and for VEGF in 17 studies, including nine studies for RFS (n = 1064) and 10 for OS (n = 1301). High MVD significantly predicted poor RFS (RR = 2.32 95% CI: 1.39-3.90; P < 0.001) and OS (RR = 1.44; 95% CI: 1.08-1.92; P = 0.01). Using CD31 or CD34, MVD was inversely related to survival, whereas it was not using factor VIII. Vascular endothelial growth factor expression significantly predicted poor RFS (RR = 2.84; 95% CI: 1.95-4.16) and OS (RR=1.65; 95% CI: 1.27-2.14). To strengthen our findings, future prospective studies should explore the relation between MVD or VEGF expression and survival or response to therapy (e.g. antiangiogenic therapy). Assessment of these angiogenic markers should be better standardised in future studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood supply*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality*
  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD34 / biosynthesis
  • Capillaries
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Factor VIII / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / biosynthesis
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survival Rate
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / biosynthesis*


  • Antigens, CD34
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Factor VIII