Immunohistochemical determination of tumor angiogenesis measured by the maximal microvessel density in human prostate cancer

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Tumor growth beyond a certain size requires angiogenesis. Experimental evidence shows that once tumors leave the pre-angiogenic phenotype to become angiogenic, metastases often start to evolve. The aim of this study was to develop a reproducible immunohistochemical technique and method to characterize the neovascularization in archival prostate cancer tissue by quantifying the microvessel density (MVD). Archival tumor specimens from 64 consecutively diagnosed prostate cancer patients were immunostained for von Willebrand Factor (vWF), endothelial antigen and for CD31 combined with the use of different digestive enzymes (trypsin and pronase) and heating in a microwave oven. Both the mean and the maximal MVD, and the reproducibility of the method were estimated. Finally, the mean MVD, the maximal MVD, and clinical characteristics were correlated with the crude survival of the patient population. The immunohistochemical staining for vWF to measure the maximal MVD was found to be a reproducible method of characterizing the individual tumor. Both a univariate and a multivariate analysis demonstrated that the maximal MVD, in contrast to the mean MVD, was significantly associated with survival in prostate cancer patients. We conclude that evaluation of angiogenesis by immunostaining the endothelial cells for vWF measured by the MVD in the most vascularized areas of the tumor is a reproducible method of characterizing the individual prostate tumor. Maximal MVD proved to be an independent prognostic parameter useful in conjuction with other known prognostic markers in human prostate cancer.

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