Vascular endothelial growth factor/KDR activated microvessel density versus CD31 standard microvessel density in non-small cell lung cancer.
Koukourakis MI., Giatromanolaki A., Thorpe PE., Brekken RA., Sivridis E., Kakolyris S., Georgoulias V., Gatter KC., Harris AL.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an important angiogenic factor, linked to poor outcome in human malignancies including non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). We used the 11B5 monoclonal antibody recognizing the VEGF/KDR complex (R. A. Brekken et al., Cancer Res., 58: 1952-1959, 1998) to assess the VEGF expression in cancer cells and the VEGF/KDR activated microvessel density (aMVD) in early operable NSCLC. The JC70 anti-CD31 monoclonal antibody was used to assess the standard MVD (sMVD). The aMVD was significantly higher in the invading front of the tumors and in the normal lung adjacent to the tumors as compared with normal lung distant to the tumor or to inner tumor areas (P < 0.0002). The sMVD was higher in the normal lung and decreased from the invading front to inner tumor areas (P < 0.0001). However, the vascular activation (aMVD:sMVD) was 4-6 times higher in the tumor areas as compared with lung from normal individuals (36-58% versus 9%; P < 0.0001). Fibroblast 11B5 reactivity, noted in 25% of cases, correlated with high aMVD and sMVD in the inner tumor areas. Multivariate analysis showed that aMVD was the most potent and independent prognostic factor (P = 0.001; t-ratio, 3.28). It is concluded that intense VEGF/KDR angiogenic pathway activation is a tumor-specific feature in more than 50% of NSCLC cases and is associated with poor postoperative outcome. Clinical trials involving targeting of the VEGF/KDR-positive vasculature with specific antibodies, such as 11B5, are, therefore, encouraged.