High tumor levels of vascular endothelial growth factor predict poor response to systemic therapy in advanced breast cancer.Cancer Res. 2001 Jul 15; 61(14):5407-14.CR
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a potent angiogenic factor, has been reported to be associated with a poor prognosis in primary breast cancer and in several other cancer types. In the present study, we have measured with ELISA the levels of VEGF in cytosolic extracts of 845 primary breast tumors of patients who developed a recurrence during follow-up. All of the patients received tamoxifen (n = 618) or cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, 5-fluorouracil (CMF) or 5-fluorouracil, Adriamycin, cyclophosphamide (FAC) chemotherapy (n = 227) as first-line systemic therapy after diagnosis of advanced disease. VEGF levels were not related to age or menopausal status but were negatively related to the cytosolic levels of estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor (P < 0.0001). In patients who relapsed within 1 year after primary surgery, tumor VEGF levels were higher than in patients who showed a longer disease-free interval (P = 0.0005). In patients with a first relapse in the viscera, VEGF levels were higher compared with those that relapsed to the bone or soft tissue (P = 0.0004). In univariate analysis for response to first-line tamoxifen therapy, patients with high or intermediate levels showed a poor rate of response, compared with patients with low tumor-VEGF levels (P = 0.0001). Similarly, in multivariate analysis for response to tamoxifen treatment, corrected for age, site of relapse, disease-free interval, and estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor status, VEGF status was an independent predictive factor (P = 0.009). In concordance, higher levels of VEGF were associated with a short progression-free survival and postrelapse overall survival (both, P < 0.0001). On first-line chemotherapy, the rate of response decreased with higher tumor levels of VEGF, both in univariate (P = 0.003) and in multivariate analysis (P = 0.004). Furthermore, higher VEGF levels were associated with a short progression-free survival (P = 0.003) and postrelapse overall survival (P = 0.001). In conclusion, the tumor VEGF level is an important independent marker that predicts a poor efficacy of both tamoxifen and chemotherapy in advanced breast cancer. Knowledge of the tumor level of VEGF might be helpful in selecting individual patients who may benefit from treatments with antiangiogenic agents combined with conventionally used drugs.