Background: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of several angiogenic factors expressed in cirrhosis and during progression to malignancy, that seem to play a major role in hepatocellular carcinoma development. Lately, another angiogenic factor, epidermal growth factor-like domain multiple 7 (EGFL7), has attracted interest due to its possible relationship with hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis.
Aims: To evaluate expression of VEGF and EGFL7 in human hepatocellular carcinoma, compared to corresponding cirrhotic surrounding tissue.
Methods: Tumoural and cirrhotic tissue was harvested from 12 consecutive patients undergoing surgical resection. VEGF and EGFL7 were assessed by immunofluorescence and quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, compared with normal controls.
Results: Both angiogenic factors were over-expressed in cirrhotic livers compared to normal controls. VEGF and EGFL7 expressions did not differ according to disease aetiology, nodule size or other clinical variables. While VEGF expression was constant, regardless of tumour differentiation stage and unchanged compared to surrounding cirrhotic tissue, EGFL7 expression increased in less differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma.
Conclusions: The preferential expression of EGFL7 in less differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma compared to VEGF, suggests a possible important role of this angiogenic factor in a later oncogenic and infiltrative/metastatic phase.
Keywords: Epidermal growth factor like domain 7 (EGFL7); Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); Liver cirrhosis; Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Copyright © 2015 Editrice Gastroenterologica Italiana S.r.l. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.