Plexin D1 is ubiquitously expressed on tumor vessels and tumor cells in solid malignancies

BMC Cancer. 2009 Aug 25;9:297. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-9-297.


Background: Plexin D1 is expressed on both tumor-associated endothelium and malignant cells in a number of clinical brain tumors. Recently we demonstrated that Plexin D1 expression is correlated with tumor invasion level and metastasis in a human melanoma progression series. The objective of this study was to examine whether Plexin D1 might be clinically useful as a pan-tumor vessel and pan-tumor cell target in solid tumors.

Methods: We examined Plexin D1 expression in clinical solid tumors (n = 77) of different origin, a selection of pre-malignant lesions (n = 29) and a variety of non-tumor related tissues (n = 52) by immunohistochemistry. Signals were verified in a selection of tissues via mRNA in situ hybridization.

Results: Plexin D1 is abundantly expressed on both activated established tumor vasculature and malignant cells in the majority of primary and metastatic clinical tumors, as well as on macrophages and fibroblasts. Importantly, in non-tumor related tissues Plexin D1 expression is restricted to a subset of, presumably activated, fibroblasts and macrophages.

Conclusion: We demonstrate that Plexin D1 is in general ubiquitously expressed in tumor but not normal vasculature, as well as in malignant cells in a wide range of human tissues. This expression profile highlights Plexin D1 as a potentially valuable therapeutic target in clinical solid tumors, enabling simultaneous targeting of different tumor compartments.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Vessels / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / genetics*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • PLXND1 protein, human