Angiogenic interactions of vascular endothelial growth factor, of thymidine phosphorylase, and of p53 protein expression in locally advanced gastric cancer.
Giatromanolaki A., Koukourakis MI., Stathopoulos GP., Kapsoritakis A., Paspatis G., Kakolyris S., Sivridis E., Georgoulias V., Harris AL., Gatter KC.
The assessment of the angiogenic profile of tumors may become an important tool as a guide for the inclusion of novel drugs and molecular therapies into the standard chemoradiotherapy policy. Several studies have shown the prognostic importance of microvessel density (MVD) and of angiogenic factor expression in operable gastric cancer. In the present study we investigated, with immunohistochemistry the MVD, the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and of thymidine phosphorylase (TP) expression, as well as the nuclear expression of p53 protein, in a series of patients with locally advanced inoperable gastric cancer. A strong association of VEGF with TP expression was noted (P = 0.005), and tumors coexpressing these factors had a statistically higher MVD (P = 0.0001). Nuclear p53 accumulation was also related to a high MVD (P = 0.004), and this was independent of VEGF or TP expression. Microvessel density showed a bell-shaped association with prognosis; cases with an intermediate MVD exhibit a favorable outcome (P < 0.05). A trend of nuclear TP expression to define a group of patients with poorer prognosis was noted (P = 0.06), while none of the remaining variables showed any significant association. The immunostaining results allowed the grouping of the angiogenic profile in four major categories: 1) highly vascularized tumors with VEGF and/or TP expression (about 36% of cases); 2) highly angiogenic tumors with p53 nuclear accumulation and low VEGF/TP expression (7% of cases); 3) poorly vascularized tumor with low VEGF/TP and negative nuclear p53 staining (32% of cases); 4) poorly vascularized tumors with TP expression (7% of cases). Specific therapies targeting hypoxia, VEGF, or TP expression as well as p53 gene therapy have entered clinical experimentation or are already available for clinical use. Using the suggested markers more than 80% of locally advanced gastric carcinomas can be grouped in different categories according to their angiogenic profile. Such a categorization may be useful for phase III trials on novel therapies targeting the major angiogenesis-related features studied here.