Background: The formation of new microvessels from the existing vascular bed is known as angiogenesis and is normally under the tight regulatory control of angiogenic factors. This control is lost in malignant tumours. Previous studies have correlated increased microvessel density with poor prognosis in patients with primary lung cancer.
Materials and methods: Our group measured levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) in sera from 68 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and compared elevated levels of VEGF and bFGF with clinical outcome. Serum basic FGF and VEGF were measured using commercially available enzyme- linked immunosorbent assays (R & D Systems Inc., Minneapolis, MN USA).
Results: In 26/68 (38%) patients we found that elevated circulating levels of bFGF and in 27/68 (39%) serum samples levels of VEGF were elevated. Elevated bFGF values in sera was a statistically significant good prognostic factor, p- value = 0.048, when adjusted to stage and there was a trend in that patients with elevated levels of bFGF had a higher fraction of adenocarcinomas compared with squamous epithelial carcinomas (chi 2 = 2.0). No significant correlations could be demonstrated when elevated levels of VEGF in serum was present. Elevated levels of both VEGF and bFGF was present in 45% of the patients.
Conclusions: We found that elevated levels of bFGF is a good prognostic factor when measured in sera from NSCLC patients. As this result disagrees with earlier studies on other malignancies the results from our study needs to be further investigated in a prospective study.