Background/aims: Angiogenesis plays an important role in tumor growth and metastasis. It is regulated by angiogenic factors. Thymidine phosphorylase (platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor) is one such factor. Although the significance of platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor has been studied for several types of tumor, the expression of platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor and its correlation with microvessel density or clinicopathological factors in hepatocellular carcinoma are unknown. We evaluated microvessel density and platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor expression in hepatocellular carcinoma to determine whether microvessel density and platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor expression are correlated with the clinicopathological factors of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Methods: Using immunohistochemical staining with anti-platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor antibody and the ELISA method, we evaluated the correlation among platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor expression, microvessel density and clinicopathological factors in 84 hepatocellular carcinoma patients. Microvessels were stained with anti-human von Willebrand factor (anti-Factor VIII) and anti-CD34.
Results: In the surrounding liver, there was a significant correlation between microvessel density and platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor expression (p=0.002), and hepatitis C virus-positive livers had higher microvessel densities than otherwise (p=0.003). However, this correlation was not found for hepatocellular carcinoma, but hepatitis C virus-positive tumors had higher expression of platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor (p=0.018). Microvessel density in hepatocellular carcinoma obtained by Factor VIII staining inversely affected the recurrence-free survival rate (p=0.0416), but the microvessel density by CD34 staining was not a significant predictor.
Conclusions: This study indicates that platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor may not be a major regulator of angiogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma, but this enzyme may play an important role in hepatocarcinogenesis cooperating with hepatitis C virus. Also, the density, not of sinusoid-like vessels, but of larger vessels in hepatocellular carcinoma could be a prognostic factor for hepatocellular carcinoma.