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Chin J Cancer Res. 2012 Jun;24(2):130-7. doi: 10.1007/s11670-012-0130-y.

Overexpression and immunosuppressive functions of transforming growth factor 1, vascular endothelial growth factor and interleukin-10 in epithelial ovarian cancer.

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Gynecology Oncology Center, Peking University People's Hospital, Beijing 100044, China.



Transforming growth factor-1 (TGF-β1), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and interleukin-10 (IL-10) may be critical cytokines in the microenvironment of a tumor, playing roles in immune suppression. This study was conducted to elucidate the roles and immunosuppressive functions of these cytokines in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).


The expression levels of TGF-β1, VEGF and IL-10 in malignant tissue were evaluated by immune- histochemistry and compared with corresponding borderline, benign, and tumor-free tissues. Moreover, relationships among the levels of these cytokines and correlations between expression and the prognosis of EOC were analyzed by Pearson rank correlations and multi-factor Logistic regression. The roles of TGF-β1, VEGF, and IL-10 in the immunosuppressive microenvironment of ovarian cancer were studied through dendritic cell (DC) maturation and CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Treg generation in vitro experiments.


TGF-β1, VEGF, and IL-10 were expressed in 100%, 74.69%, and 54.96% of EOC patients, respectively. TGF-β1 was an independent prognostic factor for EOC. IL-10 was significantly co-expressed with VEGF. In vitro, VEGF and TGF-β1 strongly interfered with DC maturation and consequently led to immature DCs, which secreted high levels of IL-10 that accumulated around the tumor site. TGF-β1 and IL-10 induced Treg generation without antigen presentation in DCs.


TGF-β1, VEGF and IL-10 play important roles in EOC and can lead to frequent immune evasion events.


Cytokines; Epithelial ovarian cancer; Immunosuppression; Tumor microenvironment

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