1. Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Avenida de Universidade, Macau SAR
2. Center for Cancer Research & Cell Biology and School of Pharmacy, Queen's University Belfast, BT9 7BL, Belfast, United Kingdom
3. Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge, CB2 0RE, Cambridge, United Kingdom
*These authors contributed equally to this work
Tumor cells require angiogenesis to deliver nutrients and oxygen to support their fast growth and metabolism. The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway plays an important role in promoting angiogenesis, including tumor-induced angiogenesis. Recent clinical trials have demonstrated the benefit of targeting VEGF in the treatment of glioblastoma. However, the prognostic significance of the expression of VEGFA and its receptors VEGFR1 (FLT1) and VEGFR2 (KDR) are still largely elusive. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the prognostic significance of these three factors, alone or in combination, in glioma patients. Gene mRNA expression was extracted from three independent brain tumor cohorts totaling 242 patients and the association between gene expression and survival was tested. We found that when VEGFA, FLT1 and KDR expressions were considered alone, only VEGFA demonstrated a significant association with patient survival. Patients with high expression of both VEGFA and either receptor had significantly worse survival than patients expressing both factors at a low level. Importantly, we found that those patients whose tumors overexpressed all three genes had a significantly shorter survival compared to those patients with a low level expression of these genes. Our results suggest that a high level expression of VEGFA and its receptors, both FLT1 and KDR, may be required for brain tumor progression, and that these three factors should be considered together as a prognostic indicator for brain tumor patients.
Keywords: Brain tumor, VEGFA, FLT1, KDR, Angiogenesis, Survival