We sought to characterize the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptors in neuroblastoma (NBL) and to correlate the results with N-myc (MYCN) expression and in vivo growth of these tumors. Two representative human-derived NBL cell lines, SK-N-AS (AS) with low and SK-N-DZ (DZ) with a high MYCN copy number, were used for the study. We examined their proliferation, VEGF and VEGF receptor expression in vitro and xenograft tumor growth in vivo. In parallel, human NBL specimens were analyzed for expression of VEGF and neuropilin-1 (NRP-1). DZ cells exhibited a 4-fold higher proliferation rate than AS. In contrast, VEGF protein expression was significantly higher in AS cells. NRP-1 was the only VEGF receptor produced in AS and DZ cells in vitro and in vivo. Both AS and DZ cells formed tumors in athymic mice but AS tumors grew 3.5 times larger than DZ tumors and had larger diameter tumor vessels. VEGF and NRP-1 expression was also demonstrated in human NBL specimens. Our studies indicate that VEGF and VEGF receptor expression in NBL tumor cells are associated with tumor growth and that angiogenic factors may serve as a biological marker together with already established MYCN amplification.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine