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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2000 Jan-Feb;18(1):57-62.

Vascular endothelial growth factor and hypertrophic osteoarthropathy.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Instituto Nacional de Cardiología Ignacio Chávez, Mexico City, Mexico.



Hypertrophic osteoarthropathy (HOA) is characterized by the coexistence of digital clubbing and periosteal proliferation of the tubular bones. Localized vascular proliferation associated with platelet/endothelial cell activation are recognized features of this syndrome. Current knowledge suggests that HOA develops from the presence in the systemic circulation of one or more growth factors that are normally inactivated in the lungs. The nature of these purported growth factors has not yet been identified. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has several features that may fit in with the pathogenesis of HOA. The objective of our study was to measure serum and plasma levels of VEGF in different groups of patients with HOA.


We studied 24 patients with HOA; of these, in 12 the HOA was secondary to cyanotic congenital heart disease and in 7 to lung cancer, while 5 represented primary cases. As controls we studied 28 individuals without HOA; of these, 12 were apparently healthy individuals, 7 had cyanosis secondary to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 9 had lung cancer. ELISA was used to measure serum and plasma levels of VEGF.


Plasma levels of VEGF were significantly higher in the patients with primary HOA (median 46.2; range 19.4-398.8 pg/ml) and in those with lung cancer-HOA (median 75.5; range 24.6-166.7), compared to healthy controls (median 7.4; range: 0-26.1), p < 0.05. Serum VEGF levels were higher in patients with lung cancer and HOA (median 411.4; range 164.2-959.5 pg/ml) compared with lung cancer patients without HOA (median 74.5; range 13.2-205.4), p < 0.001.


Patients with primary HOA and those with HOA and lung cancer have increased circulating levels of VEGF. This cytokine may play a role in the pathogenesis of HOA.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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