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Cancer Res. 1996 Dec 1;56(23):5391-6.

Up-regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular permeability factor in mouse skin carcinogenesis correlates with malignant progression state and activated H-ras expression levels.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, CIEMAT, Madrid, Spain.


Angiogenesis is a crucial process for tumor growth and metastasis regulated by the balance of positive and negative factors. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF/VPF) is a specific mitogen for endothelial cells that has been shown to be overexpressed in a variety of tumors and other inflammatory diseases. To analyze the implication of VEGF/VPF during tumorigenesis, we have studied its expression at different stages of tumor development using the mouse skin carcinogenesis model. VEGF/VPF mRNA was induced in skin in vivo after 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate treatment. Constitutive up-regulation of VEGF/VPF at the mRNA and protein levels was also observed in premalignant papillomas and, at a higher level, in squamous carcinomas, suggesting a correlation between VEGF/VPF expression and tumor progression. A direct positive correlation between VEGF/VPF mRNA expression and the level of activated H-ras gene was found in a series of cell lines representing different stages of epidermal tumor development. Consequently, a clone of one of these cell lines, HaCa4, which has lost most of its v-ras expression, down-regulated VEGF mRNA expression concomitantly with its metastatic potential. Direct evidence of H-ras involvement in VEGF induction was obtained when an immortalized mouse keratinocyte cell line transduced with a retrovirus carrying v-H-ras showed highly increased VEGF/VPF mRNA levels. These data show that in mouse skin carcinogenesis, the VEGF/VPF angiogenic stimulus occurs early during premalignant papilloma development and further increases at later stages. Moreover, we demonstrate that increasing the activated H-ras dose, a phenomenon that takes place sequentially throughout mouse skin tumor development, may play an additional role by facilitating malignant in vivo progression through the modulation of VEGF/VPF-mediated angiogenesis.

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