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Hum Pathol. 1998 Sep;29(9):910-4.

Tissue-specific expression pattern of vascular endothelial growth factor isoforms in the malignant transformation of lung and colon.

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Department of Pathology, University of Hong Kong.


Angiogenesis, a prerequisite for tumor growth and progression, results from a shift in the equilibrium between angiogenic factors and angiogenic inhibitors. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been identified as one of the most important factors mediating angiogenesis in physiological and pathological conditions. Through alternative splicing, four isoforms of VEGF are formed, consisting of 206, 189, 165, and 121 amino acids, respectively. VEGF206 and VEGF189 differ from VEGF165 and VEGF121 in their bioavailability, with the longer forms being matrix-bound and the shorter forms freely diffusible. To investigate the relative importance of the VEGF isoforms in neoplastic transformation, we studied the pattern of splice variant expression by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in 18 lung and 11 colonic carcinomas and their corresponding normal tissues, respectively. The findings showed a significant upregulation of VEGF in both carcinomas, with VEGF165 and VEGF121 being the predominant forms; VEGF189 was significantly expressed in normal lung but not colon; and VEGF206 was not detected in any specimen. The findings indicate that during malignant progression, an angiogenic switch favoring the shorter diffusible isoforms is likely to confer on the tumor a growth advantage. From the differential expression of VEGF isoforms in normal lung and colonic tissues, different functional roles of the splice variants is suggested. In particular, VEGF189 may be important for the maintenance of the vascular integrity of the lung.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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