Open Access Research article

Circulating endothelial cells and other angiogenesis factors in pancreatic carcinoma patients receiving gemcitabine chemotherapy

Shunsuke Kondo1*, Hideki Ueno1, Jun Hashimoto1, Chigusa Morizane1, Fumiaki Koizumi2, Takuji Okusaka1 and Kenji Tamura3

Author Affiliations

1 Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Oncology Division, National Cancer Center Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

2 Shien-Lab, National Cancer Center Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

3 Breast and Medical Oncology Division, National Cancer Center Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:268  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-268

Published: 25 June 2012



Pancreatic carcinoma is a significant cause of cancer-related death in developed countries. As the level of circulating endothelial cells (CECs) is known to increase in response to various cancers, we investigated the predictive potential of CEC levels and the association of these levels with the expression of proangiogenic factors in pancreatic carcinoma patients.


Pancreatic carcinoma patients receiving gemcitabine chemotherapy were prospectively assigned to this study. CEC levels were measured using the CellTracks system, and the plasma levels of several angiogenesis factors were measured using multiplex immunoassay. Associations between clinical outcomes and the levels of these factors were evaluated.


Baseline CEC levels were markedly higher in pancreatic carcinoma patients (n = 37) than in healthy volunteers (n = 53). Moreover, these high CEC levels were associated with decreased overall survival (median, 297 days versus 143 days, P < 0.001) and progression-free survival (median, 150 days versus 64 days, P = 0.008), as well as with high vascular endothelial growth factor, interleukin (IL)-8, and IL-10 expression in the pancreatic carcinoma patients.


Several chemokines and proangiogenic factors correlate with the release of CECs, and the number of CECs detected may be a useful prognostic marker in pancreatic carcinoma patients undergoing gemcitabine chemotherapy.

Trial registration


Pancreatic carcinoma; Circulating endothelial cells; Angiogenesis factors