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Leukemia. 2002 Jul;16(7):1302-10.

Overexpression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its cellular receptor KDR (VEGFR-2) in the bone marrow of patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

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Department of Medicine/Hematology and Oncology, University of Muenster, Germany.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its cellular receptor VEGFR-2 have been implicated as the main endothelial pathway required for tumor neovascularization. However, the importance of the VEGF/VEGFR-2 system for angiogenesis in hematologic malignancies such as AML remains to be elucidated. In 32 patients with newly diagnosed untreated AML, we observed by immunohistochemical analysis of bone marrow biopsies significantly higher levels of VEGF and VEGFR-2 expression than in 10 control patients (P <0.001). In contrast, VEGFR-1 staining levels in AML patients were in the same range as in the controls. Expression of VEGF and VEGFR-2 was significantly higher in patients with a high degree of microvessel density compared to those with a low degree (VEGF: P =0.024; VEGFR-2: P =0.040) and correlated well with bone marrow microvessel density (r(s)=0.566 and 0.609, respectively; P <0.001). Furthermore, in patients who achieved a complete remission following induction chemotherapy VEGFR-2 staining levels decreased into the normal range. In conclusion, our results provide evidence for increased expression of VEGF/VEGFR-2 of leukemic blasts and correlation with angiogenesis in the bone marrow of AML patients. Thus, VEGF/VEGFR-2 might constitute promising targets for antiangiogenic and antileukemic treatment strategies in AML.

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