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Cancer Res. 2001 Mar 1;61(5):1786-90.

Vascular endothelial growth factor C promotes tumor lymphangiogenesis and intralymphatic tumor growth.

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Molecular/Cancer Biology Laboratory, Haartman Institute and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Many solid tumors produce vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C), and its receptor, VEGFR-3, is expressed in tumor blood vessels. To study the role of VEGF-C in tumorigenesis, we implanted MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cells overexpressing recombinant VEGF-C orthotopically into severe combined immunodeficient mice. VEGF-C increased tumor growth, but unlike VEGF, it had little effect on tumor angiogenesis. Instead, VEGF-C strongly promoted the growth of tumor-associated lymphatic vessels, which in the tumor periphery were commonly infiltrated with the tumor cells. These effects of VEGF-C were inhibited by a soluble VEGFR-3 fusion protein. Our data suggest that VEGF-C facilitates tumor metastasis via the lymphatic vessels and that tumor spread can be inhibited by blocking the interaction between VEGF-C and its receptor.

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