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Eur J Surg Oncol. 2007 Apr;33(3):294-300. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

Clinicopathological and prognostic significance of vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF)-C and -D and VEGF receptor 3 in invasive breast carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 75 Mikras Asias Str., Goudi, GR-115 27 Athens, Greece.



Vascular endothelial growth factors C and D (VEGF-C and VEGF-D) play a major role in lymphangiogenesis and activate VEGF receptor 3 (VEGFR-3). Our purpose was to study the clinicopathologic and clinical value of VEGF-C, VEGF-D and VEGFR-3 in invasive breast carcinoma.


Immunohistochemistry was performed in paraffin-embedded tissue specimens from 177 invasive breast carcinomas to detect the proteins VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGFR-3, p53, Ki67, c-erbB-2, topoII alpha and ER/PR. The results were statistically processed.


VEGF-C, VEGF-D and VEGFR-3 were found to be predominantly expressed in the cytoplasm of the malignant cells. VEGF-C occasionally showed a submembranous intensification. VEGF-D and VEGFR-3 were also immunodetected in the nuclei of the malignant cells. Nuclear VEGF-D was positively correlated to p53, Ki67 and topoII alpha proteins' expression (p=0.003, p=0.009 and p=0.017 respectively) and nuclear VEGFR-3 to topoII alpha (p=0.034). Cytoplasmic expression of VEGF-C and its submembranous intensification were found to be independent indicators of patients' overall and disease-free survival, respectively (p=0.003 and p=0.044 respectively). The group with high expression of both cytoplasmic VEGF-C and stromal VEGFR-3 showed poor overall survival (p=0.024) and the group with both submembranous VEGF-C and stromal VEGFR-3 immunostaining showed poor both disease-free and overall survival (p=0.012 and p=0.038 respectively).


VEGF-D and VEGFR-3 seem to exert proliferative activity in invasive breast carcinomas. VEGF-C was found to be an independent indicator of patient's poor prognosis and the simultaneous expression of tumor VEGF-C and stromal VEGFR-3 yielded additional prognostic information.

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