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Mol Biol Cell. Jan 1993; 4(1): 121–133.
PMCID: PMC300905

Epidermal growth factor stimulates vascular endothelial growth factor production by human malignant glioma cells: a model of glioblastoma multiforme pathophysiology.


Hypervascularity, focal necrosis, persistent cerebral edema, and rapid cellular proliferation are key histopathologic features of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and malignant of human brain tumors. By immunoperoxidase and immunofluorescence, we definitively have demonstrated the presence of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr) in five out of five human glioma cell lines (U-251MG, U-105MG, D-65MG, D-54MG, and CH-235MG) and in eight human GBM tumor surgical specimens. In vitro experiments with glioma cell lines revealed a consistent and reliable relation between EGFr activation and VEGF production; namely, EGF (1-20 ng/ml) stimulation of glioma cells resulted in a 25-125% increase in secretion of bioactive VEGF. Conditioned media (CM) prepared from EGF-stimulated glioma cell lines produced significant increases in cytosolic free intracellular concentrations of Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Neither EGF alone or CM from glioma cultures prepared in the absence of EGF induced [Ca2+]i increases in HUVECs. Preincubation of glioma CM with A4.6.1, a monoclonal antibody to VEGF, completely abolished VEGF-mediated [Ca2+]i transients in HUVECs. Likewise, induction by glioma-derived CM of von Willebrand factor release from HUVECs was completely blocked by A4.6.1 pretreatment. These observations provide a key link in understanding the basic cellular pathophysiology of GBM tumor angiogenesis, increased vascular permeability, and cellular proliferation. Specifically, EGF activation of EGFr expressed on glioma cells leads to enhanced secretion of VEGF by glioma cells. VEGF released by glioma cells in situ most likely accounts for pathognomonic histopathologic and clinical features of GBM tumors in patients, including striking tumor angiogenesis, increased cerebral edema and hypercoagulability manifesting as focal tumor necrosis, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism.

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