In vitro and in vivo production of vascular endothelial growth factor by chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells

H Chen, A T Treweeke, D C West, K J Till, J C Cawley, M Zuzel, C H Toh

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175 Citations (Scopus)


Expansion of primary solid tumors and their malignant dissemination are angiogenesis-dependent. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the key factor playing a pivotal role in solid tumor-induced angiogenesis. Recent studies indicate that angiogenesis may also be involved in the pathogenesis of certain hemic malignancies, including B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL). Mechanisms underlying angiogenesis in B-CLL and the role of VEGF in this process are incompletely understood. In this study, it was examined whether angiogenically functional VEGF is produced by B-CLL cells. Immunohistochemical staining with antibodies against VEGF and CD34, an endothelial cell marker, demonstrated the presence of VEGF protein and abundant blood vessels in infiltrated lymphoreticular tissues. Low levels of VEGF were detected by ELISA in the culture media of unstimulated cells; this was enhanced up to 7-fold by hypoxic stimulation. SDS-PAGE and Western blot analysis of the concentrated culture media showed 2 isoforms of VEGF protein with molecular weights of 28 and 42 kd, respectively. RNA hybridization showed that these cells expressed VEGF mRNA. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, combined with nucleotide sequence analysis, revealed that the predominantly expressed isoforms were VEGF121 and VEGF165. Moreover, (3)H-thymidine incorporation and an in vivo angiogenic assay demonstrated that the VEGF produced by CLL cells can induce angiogenesis by stimulating endothelial cell proliferation. In conclusion, this study shows that B-CLL cells produce VEGF and demonstrates the angiogenic effects of this growth factor, which may be relevant for the tissue phase of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3181-7
Number of pages7
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2000


  • Antigens, CD34
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell
  • Lymphokines
  • Monocytes
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


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