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Mod Pathol. 2005 Jan;18(1):143-52.

Angiogenic and lymphangiogenic microvessel density in breast carcinoma: correlation with clinicopathologic parameters and VEGF-family gene expression.

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Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30033, USA.


Angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis are essential for breast cancer progression and are regulated by vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF). To determine clinical and molecular correlates of these processes, we measured blood and lymphatic vascular microvessel density in 29 invasive carcinomas (22 ductal, six lobular, one papillary), using the vascular marker CD31 and the novel lymphatic marker D2-40. Microvessel density was assessed microscopically and by image cytometry, and was compared with tumor histology, grade, stage, lymph node metastasis, hormone receptors, HER2/neu status, and expression of VEGF, VEGF-C and VEGF-D by immunohistochemistry or quantitative RT-PCR. Strong correlation was observed between visual and image cytometric microvessel density using D2-40 but not CD31 (P=0.016 and 0.1521, respectively). Image cytometric CD31 microvessel density correlated with tumor size, grade, stage and lymph node metastasis (P=0.0001, 0.0107, 0.0035 and 0.0395, respectively). D2-40 microvessel density correlated with tumor stage (P=0.0123 by image cytometry) and lymph node metastasis (P=0.0558 by microscopy). Immunohistochemical VEGF signal in peritumoral blood vessels correlated with image cytometric CD31 and D2-40 microvessel density (P=0.022 and 0.0012, respectively), consistent with the role of VEGF in blood and lymphatic vascular growth. Intratumoral VEGF-C and VEGF-D expression by quantitative RT-PCR correlated with D2-40 (P=0.0291 by image cytometry) but not with CD31 microvessel density, which could suggest a selective role of VEGF-C and VEGF-D in lymphangiogenesis. CD31 and D2-40 microvessel density correlated significantly with several prognostic factors, including lymph node metastasis. Thus, measurements of angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis may have utility for breast cancer pathology, particularly for estimation of metastatic risk.

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