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Br J Cancer. 1999 Jan;79(2):354-9.

Thrombospondin 2 expression is correlated with inhibition of angiogenesis and metastasis of colon cancer.

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Department of Pathology, Tokai University School of Medicine, Isehara, Kanagawa, Japan.


Two subtypes of thrombospondin (TSP-1 and TSP-2) have inhibitory roles in angiogenesis in vitro, although the biological significance of these TSP isoforms has not been determined in vivo. We examined TSP-1 and TSP-2 gene expression by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis in 61 colon cancers. Thirty-eight of these 61 colon cancers were positive for TSP-2 expression and showed hepatic metastasis at a significantly lower incidence than those without TSP-2 expression (P = 0.02). TSP-2 expression was significantly associated with M0 stage in these colon cancers (P = 0.03), whereas TSP-1 expression showed no apparent correlation with these factors. The colon cancer patients with TSP-2 expression showed a significantly low frequency of liver metastasis correlated with the cell-associated isoform of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-189) (P = 0.0006). Vascularity was estimated by CD34 staining, and TSP-2(-)/VEGF-189(+) colon cancers showed significantly increased vessel counts and density in the stroma (P < 0.0001). TSP-2(-)/VEGF-189(+) colon cancer patients also showed significantly poorer prognosis compared with those with TSP-2(+)/VEGF-189(-) (P = 0.0014). These results suggest that colon cancer metastasis is critically determined by angiogenesis resulting from the balance between the angioinhibitory factor TSP-2 and angiogenic factor VEGF-189.

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