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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2006 Aug;98(3):261-6. Epub 2006 Mar 15.

Angiopoietin 2 expression in invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast: its relationship to the VEGF expression and microvessel density.

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Department of Breast Surgery, Matsuyama Red Cross Hospital, Matsuyama, Japan.


Angiopoietin (Ang) is a ligand for the endothelium-specific tyrosine kinase receptor Tie-2, while a shift in the Ang-1:Ang-2 expression ratio in favor of Ang-2 was found to be associated with tumor angiogenesis. In the present study, we analyzed the immunohistochemical expression of Ang-2 in a series of 198 breast cancers, in which VEGF expression and microvessel density (MVD) were previously determined. Ang-2 expression was negative in 24 (12%), positive in 50 (25%) and strongly positive in 124 (63%) of 198 cases. A significant correlation was found between Ang-2 and VEGF expressions (p=0.0004) and between Ang-2 expression and MVD (p=0.0006), while a high MVD was found in 10 (77%) of 13 tumors with a strongly positive VEGF and positive Ang-2 expression and in 40 (71%) of 56 tumors with a strongly positive VEGF and strongly positive Ang-2 expression. Although there was no difference in the disease free survival (DFS) stratified according to Ang-2 expression alone, the 69 patients with a strongly positive VEGF and a strongly positive or positive Ang-2 expression had a significantly (p=0.0316) worse DFS than those with other combinations of VEGF and Ang-2 expressions. A multivariate analysis indicated lymph node metastasis and MVD to be independently significant prognostic factors for DFS, while the combination of VEGF and Ang-2 expressions was not a significant factor for DFS. In conclusion, the Ang-2 expression was found to be closely correlated with VEGF expression and MVD in breast cancer, while a high MVD was frequently found in tumors with a high expression of both VEGF and Ang-2. The survival analysis demonstrated a high MVD, which was induced by a high expression of both VEGF and Ang-2, to therefore have a strong prognostic significance in breast cancer.

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