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Cancer Res. 2000 Mar 1;60(5):1388-93.

Heterogeneity of angiogenesis and blood vessel maturation in human tumors: implications for antiangiogenic tumor therapies.

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Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Göttingen Medical School, Germany.

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  • Cancer Res 2000 Jul 1;60(13):3668.


Microvessel density (MVD) counting techniques have been widely used to assess the vasculature in tumors. MVD counts assess the presence of blood vessels but do not give an indication of the degree of angiogenesis and the functional status of the tumor neovasculature. To analyze angiogenesis and the functional status of the tumor vascular bed, we have quantitated endothelial cell proliferation and the recruitment of pericytes in human tumors [glioblastomas (n = 30), renal cell carcinomas (n = 22), colon carcinomas (n = 18), mammary carcinomas (n = 24), lung carcinomas (n = 15), and prostate carcinomas (n = 19)]. These findings were compared to the physiological angiogenesis in the cyclic bovine ovarian corpus luteum. Tissue sections were examined applying double-labeling immunohistochemical techniques to detect proliferating endothelial cells and to colocalize endothelial cells and pericytes. The following parameters were quantitated: (a) MVD count; (b) proliferating capillary index (PCI); (c) proliferating tumor versus endothelial cell index; and (d) microvessel pericyte coverage index (MPI). Based on endothelial cell proliferation, angiogenesis was found to be present in all tumors with characteristic and significant differences between the tumor types (glioblastomas, PCI = 9.6 +/- 6.1%; renal cell carcinomas, PCI = 9.4 +/- 5.2%; colon carcinomas, PCI = 7.8 +/- 5.2%; mammary carcinomas, PCI = 5.0 +/- 4.8%; lung carcinomas, PCI = 2.6 +/- 2.5%; prostate carcinomas, PCI = 2.0 +/- 1.4%). There was a considerable degree of heterogeneity in the intensity of angiogenesis within each tumor group, as indicated by large standard deviations. Even in the most angiogenic tumors, angiogenesis was found to be 4 to 20 times less intense as compared with the physiological angiogenesis in the growing ovarian corpus rubrum (PCI = 40.6 +/- 6.2%). Varying degrees of pericyte recruitment to the tumor microvasculature were determined in the different tumor types (glioblastomas, MPI = 12.7 +/- 7.9%; renal cell carcinomas, MPI = 17.9 +/- 7.8%; colon carcinomas, MPI = 65.4 +/- 10.5%; mammary carcinomas, MPI = 67.3 +/- 14.2%; lung carcinomas, MPI = 40.8 +/- 14.5%; prostate carcinomas, MPI = 29.6 +/- 9.5%). The data demonstrate distinct quantitative variations in the intensity of angiogenesis in malignant human tumors. Furthermore, the varying degrees of pericyte recruitment indicate differences in the functional status of the tumor vasculature in different tumors that may reflect varying degrees of maturation of the tumor vascular bed.

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