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Open Access Research article

Clinicopathological significance of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-B and vascular endothelial growth factor-A expression, PDGF receptor-β phosphorylation, and microvessel density in gastric cancer

Shioto Suzuki1*, Yoh Dobashi2, Yayoi Hatakeyama1, Ryosuke Tajiri1, Takashi Fujimura3, Carl H Heldin4 and Akishi Ooi1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medical Science, Ishikawa, Japan

2 Department of Pathology, Saitama Medical Center, Jichi Medical University, Saitama, Japan

3 Gastroenterologic Surgery, Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medical Science, Ishikawa, Japan

4 Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:659  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-659

Published: 30 November 2010



Angiogenesis is important in the growth and metastasis of various kinds of solid tumors, including gastric cancers. The angiogenic process is triggered by several key growth factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-B, that are secreted by tumors. Our aim was to define: i) the expression pattern of VEGF-A and PDGF-B in tumor cells and the activation of PDGF receptor (PDGFR)-β tyrosine kinase in stromal cells of human gastric adenocarcinomas; and ii) the relationship between VEGF-A and PDGF-B expression and microvessel density (MVD), to determine if there is a rationale for a new therapeutic strategy.


A series of 109 gastric adenocarcinoma cases that had undergone surgical resection was examined immunohistochemically using antibodies against VEGF-A, PDGF-B, and CD34, followed by further examination of PDGFR-β phosphorylation by immunoblotting analysis.


MVD was higher in diffuse-type than intestinal-type cancers (p < 0.001). VEGF-A overexpression correlated to PDGF-B overexpression in both the intestinal-type (p < 0.005) and diffuse-type (p < 0.0001) groups, indicating that VEGF-A and PDGF-B are secreted simultaneously in the same tumor, and may thus play important roles together in angiogenesis. However, several differences between intestinal-type and diffuse-type cancers were observed. In the diffuse-type cancer group, higher MVD was related to the PDGF-B proportion (p < 0.05) and VEGF-A overexpression (p < 0.05), but not to PDGF-B overexpression or the VEGF-A proportion. On the other hand, in the intestinal-type cancer group, higher MVD was correlated to overexpression (p < 0.005), intensity (p < 0.05), and proportion (p < 0.05) of PDGF-B, but not of VEGF-A. In addition, phosphorylation of PDGFR-β was correlated with depth of cancer invasion at statistically significant level.


Our results indicate that PDGF-B, which is involved in the maintenance of microvessels, plays a more important role in angiogenesis in intestinal-type gastric carcinomas than VEGF-A, which plays a key role mainly in the initiation of new blood vessel formation. In contrast, VEGF-A has a critical role for angiogenesis more in diffuse-type cancers, but less in those of intestinal type. Thus, a therapy targeting the PDGF-B signaling pathway could be effective for intestinal-type gastric carcinoma, whereas targeting VEGF-A or both VEGF-A and PDGF-B signaling pathways could be effective for diffuse-type gastric carcinomas.