British Journal of Cancer vol:96 issue:12 pages:1888-1895
Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CC-RCC) is a highly vascularised tumour and is therefore an attractive disease to study angiogenesis and to test novel angiogenesis inhibitors in early clinical development. Endothelial cell proliferation plays a pivotal role in the process of angiogenesis. The aim of this study was to compare angiogenesis parameters in low nuclear grade (n=87) vs high nuclear grade CC-RCC (n=63). A panel of antibodies was used for immunohistochemistry: CD34/Ki-67, carbonic anhydrase IX, hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Vessel density (MVD - microvessel density), endothelial cell proliferation fraction (ECP%) and tumour cell proliferation fraction (TCP%) were assessed. mRNA expression levels of angiogenesis stimulators and inhibitors were determined by quantitative RT-PCR. High-grade CC-RCC showed a higher ECP% (P=0.049), a higher TCP% (P=0.009), a higher VEGF protein expression (P<0.001), a lower MVD (P< 0.001) and a lower HIF-1alpha protein expression (P=0.002) than low-grade CC-RCC. Growth factor mRNA expression analyses revealed a higher expression of angiopoietin 2 in low-grade CC-RCC. Microvessel density and ECP% were inversely correlated (Rho=-0.26, P=0.001). Because of the imperfect association of nuclear grade and ECP% or MVD, CC-RCC was also grouped based on low/high MVD and ECP%. This analysis revealed a higher expression of vessel maturation and stabilisation factors (placental growth factor, PDGFB1, angiopoietin 1) in CC-RCC with high MVD, a group of CC-RCC highly enriched in low nuclear grade CC-RCC, with low ECP%. Our results suggest heterogeneity in angiogenic activity and vessel maturation of CC-RCC, to a large extent linked to nuclear grade, and, with probable therapeutic implications.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 15 May 2007; doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603796 www.bjcancer.com.