• VEGF-C;
  • VEGF-D;
  • Lymph node metastasis;
  • nflammatory breast cancer

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A is known to play an important role in tumor angiogenesis. Three additional members of the VEGF family, VEGF-B, -C and -D, have recently been discovered. VEGF-C and VEGF-D are ligands for VEGF receptor-3, which is expressed in the endothelium of lymphatic vessels. The expression of VEGF-C is known to be associated with the development of lymphatic vessels. Therefore, it is conceivable that VEGF-C and VEGF-D might play a role in the development of lymphatic vessels in solid tumors. To obtain some clue as to this role, we developed a semi-quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction method to investigate the mRNA expression levels of each VEGF family member in breast cancer. All the VEGF family members were expressed at different levels in seven human breast cancer cell lines explored. Although VEGF-A and VEGF-B expressions were detected in both node-positive and node-negative breast tumors, VEGF-C expression was detected only in node-positive tumors. VEGF-D expression was detected only in an inflammatory breast cancer and a tumor which developed an inflammatory skin metastasis. These findings suggest a possible relationship between the expression level of VEGF-C and/or VEGF-D and the development of lymphatic tumor spread.