Lymphatic microvessel density as a prognostic factor in non-small cell lung carcinoma: a meta-analysis of the literature

Mol Biol Rep. 2012 May;39(5):5331-8. doi: 10.1007/s11033-011-1332-y. Epub 2011 Dec 14.


The role of lymphatic microvessel density (LVD) as a prognostic factor for survival of patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) remains controversial. To evaluate this potential role, we performed a systematic review of the electronic databases PubMed and EMBASE for relevant literature to review and compile available survival results. To be eligible, a study had to assess LVD in patients with NSCLC and to compare survival based on LVD stratification. Among 12 eligible trials, all dealt with NSCLC, and 10 trials provided results for the meta-analysis of survival data (evaluable trials). In terms of survival, high LVD was reported to be an unfavorable prognostic factor for overall survival in 8 studies, whereas it was not in 4 studies. The overall survival hazard ratio for the 10 evaluable studies (1,426 patients) was calculated to be 1.41 (95% CI: 1.14-1.75) using a random effects model, indicating a poorer survival for NSCLC patients with high LVD. The hazard ratio was 1.52 (95% CI: 1.10-2.11) in 5 NSCLC studies where LVD was assessed based on D2-40 and 1.31 (95% CI: 1.08-1.60) in 4 studies where LVD was measured based on vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3. This study supports the hypothesis that the lymphatic microvessel count or LVD, which reflects levels of lymphangiogenesis, is a poor prognostic factor for patient survival in surgically treated NSCLC. However, the present findings may overestimate the prognostic capacity of LVD because of publication and report bias. In addition, the standardization of lymphangiogenesis assessment by the lymphatic microvessel count is necessary.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / blood supply*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphatic Vessels / pathology*
  • Microvessels / pathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-3 / metabolism


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-3