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Lung Cancer. 2004 Sep;45(3):325-37.

Enhancement of pleural dissemination and lymph node metastasis of intrathoracic lung cancer cells by vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs).

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, 3-9 Fukuura, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-0004, Japan.


The expression of vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) in tumors including lung cancer is considered to be associated with tumor development via capillary and lymph vessel neogenesis. Dissemination of the tumor cells to the pleura or regional lymph nodes is a critical poor prognostic factor for lung cancer patients. To investigate how VEGFs expressed in the intrathoracic infiltrating lung cancer cells participate in disease progression, we established stably VEGF-A-, VEGF-C-, VEGF-D-, VEGF-A and VEGF-C-, and VEGF-A and VEGF-D-expressing large cell lung cancer clones (TKB5/VEGF-A, TKB5/VEGF-C, TKB5/VEGF-D, TKB5/VEGF-A/C, and TKB5/VEGF-A/D), orthotopically inoculated these into the right thoracic cavity (i.t.) of nude mice, and evaluated the subsequent development of lung lesion, pleural effusion, pleural dissemination, and lymph node metastasis. While there were no significant differences either in culture or in subcutaneous tumor cell growth between the empty vector-transfected group (TKB5/empty) and each transfectant, the i.t. model demonstrated significantly different biological properties between the transfectants. TKB5/empty-inoculated mice frequently developed a large tumor on the pleura without pleural effusion, dissemination, or lymph node (LN) metastasis. In contrast, VEGF-A promoted a bloody pleural effusion (6/14), and VEGF-A and VEGF-D frequently generated pleural dissemination (11/14 and 9/11, respectively). Although both VEGF-C and VEGF-D generated LN metastasis (6/10 and 8/11, respectively), the locations of the metastasized LNs were quite different. TKB5/VEGF-C metastasized on the same side of axillary LNs as i.t. (right axillary LNs), whereas TKB5/VEGF-D metastasized to the mediastinal and left axillary and/or cervical LNs. Since the TKB5/VEGF-A/C or TKB5/VEGF-A/D co-transfectants revealed overlapping tumor progression patterns of VEGF-A and VEGF-C or VEGF-D, the metastatic LNs had abundant new capillaries and were larger than those of TKB5/VEGF-C or TKB5/VEGF-D-inoculated mice. Our results clearly demonstrate that VEGF-A secreted from intrathoracic lung cancer cells plays important roles in producing pleural effusion, dissemination, and capillary neogenesis, that VEGF-C is involved in LN metastasis, and VEGF-D in pleural dissemination and LN metastasis. It is most likely, however, that the mechanisms by which VEGF-C promotes LN metastasis are different from those of VEGF-D. The regulation of the expression of VEGFs in intrathoracic lung cancer cells might be a useful therapeutic approach to inhibiting tumor development and improving patient prognosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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