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J Oral Pathol Med. 2005 Mar;34(3):134-9.

Expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and vascular endothelial growth factor in oral squamous cell carcinoma: its correlation with angiogenesis and disease progression.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Stomatology, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.



Angiogenesis is a crucial step in the successful growth, invasion, and metastasis of a tumor. It has been popularly accepted that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the most potent angiogenic factor in tumor angiogenesis. As another possible star molecule responsible for tumor angiogenesis, the role of nitric oxide (NO) in tumor biology has gained much attention in recent years. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and VEGF in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is associated with angiogenesis. The present study also made a preliminary exploration of the possible cross-talking existing between eNOS and VEGF during tumor angiogenesis.


In this study, expression of eNOS and VEGF were studied immunohistochemically in tissue sections from 40 patients with OSCC and 20 normal controls. To exclude eNOS antibody cross-reactivity with inducible or neuronal nitric oxide (iNOS or nNOS), eNOS expression was confirmed by using an eNOS mRNA in situ hybridization kit. The intratumoral microvessels were highlighted by immunostaining with anti-factor VIII-related antigen monoclonal antibody and counted as well-established methods. Then, chi-square test or Student's t-test was performed to study the correlations between the expression of eNOS and VEGF, microvessel density (MVD), and various clinicopathologic factors.


Both eNOS and VEGF expression significantly increased in OSCC tissues, with a positive rate of 47.5% and 50%, respectively. The average MVD in OSCC tissues was 23.45 per high-power field (HPF), showing an obvious association with lymph node metastasis and clinical stages of patients with OSCC. Either eNOS or VEGF positivity was correlated with vessel involvement and OSCC progression. The mean MVD was significantly higher in eNOS- or VEGF-positive tumors than in eNOS- or VEGF-negative tumors. An obvious, correlation was also seen between eNOS and VEGF expression in OSCC tissues in this study.


Overexpression of eNOS and VEGF might make an important contribution to the tumor angiogenesis in OSCC. NO generation by eNOS might be implicated in the VEGF-associated angiogenic process. Further investigation of the possible cross-talking between eNOS and VEGF with respect to tumor angiogenesis is necessary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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