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Growth Factors. 2002 Jun;20(2):99-107.

The angiogenic and lymphangiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor-D exhibits a paracrine mode of action in cancer.

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  • 1Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia.


Vascular endothelial growth factor-D (VEGF-D) promotes angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis and metastatic spread via the lymphatics, however, the mode of VEGF-D action (e.g. paracrine vs. autocrine) was unknown. We analyzed VEGF-D action in human tumors and a mouse model of metastasis. VEGF-D was localized in tumor cells and endothelium in human non-small cell lung carcinoma and breast ductal carcinoma in situ. Tumor vessels positive for VEGF-D were also positive for its receptors, VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) and/or VEGFR-3 but negative for VEGF-D mRNA, indicating that VEGF-D is secreted by tumor cells and subsequently associates with endothelium via receptor-mediated uptake. The mature form of VEGF-D was detected in tumors demonstrating that VEGF-D is proteolytically processed and bioactive. In a mouse model of metastasis, VEGF-D synthesized in tumor cells became localized on the endothelium and thereby promoted metastatic spread. These data indicate that VEGF-D promotes tumor angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis and metastatic spread by a paracrine mechanism.

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