Expression and localization of endocrine gland-derived vascular endothelial growth factor (EG-VEGF) in human pancreas and pancreatic adenocarcinoma

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Oct;107(1-2):37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2007.02.006. Epub 2007 Jun 8.


Endocrine gland-derived vascular endothelial growth factor (EG-VEGF) was recently identified as the first tissue-specific angiogenic molecule. EG-VEGF (the gene product of PROK-1) appears to be expressed exclusively in steroid-producing organs such as the ovary, testis, adrenals and placenta. Since the human pancreatic cells retain steroidogenic activity, in the present study we ascertained whether this angiogenic factor is expressed in normal pancreas and pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Tissue samples from normal males (n=5), normal females (n=5) and from surgically resected adenocarcinomas (n=2) were processed for RT-PCR and immunohistochemical studies. Results from semi-quantitative analysis by RT-PCR suggest a distinct expression level for EG-VEGF in the different tissue samples. The relative amount of EG-VEGF mRNA in pancreas was more abundant in female adenocarcinoma (0.89) followed by male adenocarcinoma (0.71), than normal female (0.64) and normal male (0.38). The expression of mRNA for EG-VEGF in normal tissue was significantly higher in females than in males. All samples examined showed specific immunostaining for EG-VEGF. In male preparations, the positive labeling was localized predominantly within the pancreatic islets while in female preparations the main staining was detected towards the exocrine portion. Specific immunolabeling was also observed in endothelial cells of pancreatic blood vessels. Our data provide evidence that the human pancreas expresses the EG-VEGF, a highly specific mitogen which regulates proliferation and differentiation of the vascular endothelium. The significance of this finding could be interpreted as either, EG-VEGF is not exclusive of endocrine organs, or the pancreas should be considered as a functional steroidogenic tissue. The extent of the expression of EG-VEGF appears to have a dimorphic pattern in normal and tumoral pancreatic tissue.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pancreas / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, Endocrine-Gland-Derived / metabolism*


  • Gastrointestinal Hormones
  • PROK1 protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, Endocrine-Gland-Derived