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Int J Oncol. 2000 Mar;16(3):501-11.

The K-ras gene regulates vascular endothelial growth factor gene expression in non-small cell lung cancers.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Kitano Hospital, Tazuke Kofukai Medical Research Institute, Kamiyama-cho, Osaka 530-8480, Japan.


Tumor angiogenesis is an essential step for tumor cell growth, progression and metastasis. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is mitogen specific for endothelial cells, and therefore is believed to play a key role in tumor angiogenesis. However, the mechanisms underlying the regulation of VEGF expression remain virtually unknown and the only major regulator of VEGF expression has been reported to be hypoxia. Recently, it was reported that a mutant p53 in#duced the expression of VEGF mRNA, and that wild-type p53 down-regulated endogenous VEGF mRNA levels. In contrast, it has also been reported that mutant ras oncogenes were associated with the marked up-regulation of VEGF in transformed epithelial cells. Based on these results, we performed a retrospective study of the p53 and K-ras genes status and VEGF gene expression in the tumor tissues from 181 patients with non-small cell lung cancer using SSCP, sequencing, RT-PCR and immunohistochemical techniques. Forty-six carcinomas (25.4%) were evaluated as having high VEGF expression, and 135 tumors (74.6%) had low VEGF expression. Of the 181 primary NSCLC studied, 63 carcinomas (34.8%) contained mutations of p53, whereas only 14 carcinomas (7.7%) had mutations of K-ras. There were no significant relationships between VEGF expression and p53 status or each mutant exon of p53. In contrast, a significant difference was found between VEGF expression and K-ras status. Of the 14 tumors with mutant K-ras genes, 7 cases (50.0%) had high VEGF expression whereas only 39 of the 167 tumors with wild-type K-ras (23.4%) had high VEGF expression (p=0.0278). The mean VEGF conservation rate for the 14 tumors with mutant K-ras genes was 0.77+/-0.58 and the rate of the 167 tumors with wild-type K-ras genes was 0.49+/-0.46 (p=0. 0350). Moreover, the overall survival rate of patients with high VEGF expression was lower than patients with low VEGF expression (45.7% vs 60.7%, p=0.0419). On the other hand, there was no significant difference in the overall survival rate between patients with a mutant p53 and those with a wild-type p53; there was also no difference in the overall survival between patients with a mutant K-ras and those with a wild-type K-ras. The Cox regression model analysis indicated that three variables, VEGF status, K-ras status and nodal status, were found to be significant indicators for prognosis (p=0.0236, p=0.0172 and p<0.0001, respectively). Our data suggest that a high expression of VEGF in lung cancer may be associated with a poor prognosis. This may be a clue to improving lung cancer diagnoses and therapies aimed at inhibiting tumor angiogenesis due to VEGF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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