Low hemoglobin is associated with increased serum levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in cancer patients. Does anemia stimulate angiogenesis?

Jürgen Dunst*, Steffi Pigorsch, Gabriele Hänsgen, Ingrid Hintner, Christine Lautenschläger, Axel Becker

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit
63 Zitate (Scopus)


Background: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an endothelial cell specific mitogen with strong angiogenic activity. Expression of VEGF may therefore be an indicator for the angiogenic potential and biological aggressiveness of a tumor. Recently, measurement of the VEGF-protein in sera has become available. We report results of serum-VEGF in an unselected group of patients with cancer with special emphasis on a possible role of anemia. Patients and Methods: Between August 1997 and January 1998, serum-levels of VEGF were determined in a total number of 54 consecutive patients with previously untreated, non-metastatic carcinomas at the Department of Radiotherapy at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. The age ranged from 35 through 89 years with a median age of 67 years. All patients had locoregional confined disease without evidence of hematogeneous metastases. Tumor sites were gynecological cancers in 22, head and neck in 14, gastrointestinal in 13, lung in 4 and prostate in 1 case. Forty-four patients had squamous carcinomas and 10 adenocarcinomas. Prior to treatment, routine laboratory work-up was done including measurement of serum-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The pretreatment hemoglobin ranged from 8.9 through 15.6 g/dl with a median of 13 g/dL VEGF was measured with a quantitative sandwich enzyme immunoassay technique. Results: The serum levels of VEGF in 40 patients with benign diseases ranged from 57 through 891 pg/ml with a mean of 267 ± 170 pg/ml. In the investigated 54 cancer patients, VEGF ranged from 62 through 2 609 pg/ml with a mean of 614 ± 551 pg/ml. Age, UICC/FIGO-stage, T- or N-category, primary tumor site, grade and histologic type had no significant impact on VEGF-serum levels. There was, however, an association between hemoglobin level and serum-VEGF with an increased mean serum-VEGF in 26 patients with a low hemoglobin (< 13 g/dl) as compared to 28 patients with a hemoglobin > 13 g/dl (805 ± 656 vs 438 ± 360, p = 0.016, 2- sided t-test). Conclusions: With regard to the recently established correlation between anemia and intratumoral hypoxia, the increased serum- VEGF levels in patients with low hemoglobin may be explained via hypoxia- induced VEGF secretion. This would suggest that anemia may stimulate angiogenesis via hypoxia. The hypothesis, however, requires further investigation and might have important therapeutical impact.

ZeitschriftStrahlentherapie und Onkologie
Seiten (von - bis)93-96
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 03.1999


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