Background: Recent clinical studies have demonstrated that tumor angiogenesis is a potent prognostic indicator for breast cancer patients. The quantitation of endothelial growth factors is thought to be useful to assess angiogenic phenotype in the tumor. Among the many new endothelial growth factors, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is known to be particularly responsible for promoting the neovascularization in human breast cancer.
Methods: Intratumoral protein levels of VEGF were measured by enzymatic immunoassay in 135 primary breast cancer tissues. The VEGF levels were compared with the microvessel density evaluated by immunostaining the endothelial antigen and also were compared with intratumoral protein levels of other endothelial growth factors, including basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF).
Results: Intratumoral VEGF concentrations varied from 3.3 pg/mg protein to 2032 pg/mg protein (average 148 pg/mg protein). An immunocytochemical analysis using anti-VEGF antibody confirmed that VEGF was located mainly in the cytoplasm of the tumor cells. The VEGF concentrations were significantly higher in vascularly rich tumors than in vascularly poor tumors. No significant association was found between VEGF concentrations and the two other endothelial growth factor concentrations.
Conclusions: The quantitation of intratumoral VFGF levels seems to be useful for assessing the activity of tumor angiogenesis.