High-grade clear cell renal cell carcinoma has a higher angiogenic activity than low-grade renal cell carcinoma based on histomorphological quantification and qRT-PCR mRNA expression profile

M M Baldewijns, V L Thijssen, G G Van den Eynden, S J Van Laere, A M Bluekens, T Roskams, H van Poppel, A P De Bruïne, A W Griffioen, P B Vermeulen

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1888-95
Number of pages8
JournalBritish journal of cancer
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2007


  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell/blood supply
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit/genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms/blood supply
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic/genetics
  • RNA, Messenger/genetics
  • RNA, Neoplasm/genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A/genetics

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