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Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and thymidine phosphorylase (TP) are important angiogenic enzymes, inducing new blood vessel formation in many human malignancies. In this study, the immunohistochemical expression of the two molecules was analysed in a series of 121 endometrial carcinomas. VEGF was expressed exclusively in cancer cells, while TP expression was shown in cancer cells (TPcc) and in stromal cells (TPsc) of both fibroblastic and myometrial origin. In all cases, enzymatic detection was particularly evident at the invading tumour front. At this site, TPsc, but not VEGF, expression was associated with non-endometrioid-type carcinomas, high tumour grade, deep myometrial invasion, and advanced stage. VEGF, but not TP, expression was related to increased angiogenesis (p=0.01). Double stratification of the two factors, however, marked VEGF/TPsc co-expression as the most potent angiogenic phenotype (p=0.008), suggesting a synergistic function. Survival analysis revealed that VEGF and TPsc, whether expressed alone or in combination, define poor prognosis. In multivariate analysis, however, stage of disease (p<0.0001, t-ratio 4.4) and VEGF expression (p=0.01, t-ratio 2.4) were the most important prognostic variables. Furthermore, VEGF expression emerged as the only independent prognostic variable in stage I endometrial carcinomas (p=0.04, t-ratio 1.9). This was not shown for TP, probably because of its close association with histopathological parameters. In conclusion, VEGF is a major angiogenic factor in endometrial carcinomas and an independent prognostic factor in stage I endometrial disease. TP is not an effective contributor to the angiogenic process, but is associated with aggressive histological features. The two factors, when co-expressed, play a co-operative role in the induction of angiogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pathol

Publication Date





416 - 422


Biomarkers, Tumor, Endometrial Neoplasms, Endothelial Growth Factors, Female, Humans, Lymphokines, Multivariate Analysis, Neoplasm Invasiveness, Neovascularization, Pathologic, Prognosis, Stromal Cells, Survival Rate, Thymidine Phosphorylase, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors