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Br J Cancer. 1998;77(1):51-6.

Expression of Tie2/Tek in breast tumour vasculature provides a new marker for evaluation of tumour angiogenesis.

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Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Endothelial receptor tyrosine kinases may play important roles in pathological vascular growth, particularly in tumours. In this study, immunohistochemistry was used to evaluate the expression of a novel endothelial receptor tyrosine kinase, Tie2/Tek, in the endothelium of vascular 'hotspots' in normal breast tissue (n = 10), benign breast lesions (n = 10) and in breast tumours (n = 123). Tie2 expression was detected in the endothelium of all breast tissues examined. However, the strongest expression of Tie-2 was seen in vascular 'hot spots' within the inflammatory infiltrate at the periphery of invasive tumours. Moreover, the proportion of Tie2-positive vessels (Tie2 counts/CD31 counts) was significantly higher in breast tumours than the proportion of Tie2-positive vessels in either normal breast tissue or benign breast lesions (P = 0.004 and 0.0001 respectively). These data are consistent with a role for Tie2 in tumour angiogenesis and demonstrate the potential use of Tie2 expression as a novel marker of the tumour vasculature.

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