Co-determination of the angiogenic factors thymidine phosphorylase and vascular endothelial growth factor in node-negative breast cancer: Prognostic implications

Masakazu Toi, Massimo Gion, Elia Biganzoli, Ruggero Dittadi, Patrizia Boracchi, Rosalba Miceli, Salvatore Meli, Kazushige Mori, Takeshi Tominaga, Giampietro Gasparini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experimental and clinical studies have shown that human breast cancer is an angiogenesis-dependent neoplasm. In fact, several authors have demonstrated that the determination in primary tumors of the degree of vascularization (microvessel counts) as well as of some angiogenic peptides is of prognostic value. However, which are the most important mediators of angiogenesis and their relationship with other relevant biological markers needs further investigation. In the series of 260 women with node-negative breast cancer (NNBC) on which we previously assessed vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), we have now also determined thymidine phosphorylase (TP) protein as well as p53 protein and Cathepsin-D cytosolic levels using immunometric methods. The median concentrations of TP, p53 and Cathepsin-D were 105.4 U/mg (range 1.2-843.1), 0.22 ng/mg (range 0.0-41.65) and 33.80 nmol/mg (range 4.20-216.0), respectively. We found that TP concentrations were associated with Cathepsin-D and p53, but not with VEGF. VEGF (p <0.0001) and p53 (p = 0.03 and p = 0.012, respectively) were found to be statistically significant prognostic variables for both relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival in univariate analysis. Conversely, TP and Cathepsin-D levels did not correlate with prognosis. In multivariate analysis for RFS, VEGF levels (p <0.0001), TP levels (p = 0.050) and their first-order interaction terms (p = 0.027) were statistically significant prognostic indicators. Cathepsin-D and p53 protein levels did not retain significance in the model inclusive of all the above variables. The predictive capability of the complete model was satisfactory (Harrell c statistic = 0.72). Moreover, these results suggest a possible potentiation of the capability of predicting the likelihood of recurrence by the co-determination of TP and VEGF. The probability of recurrence was particularly high in the patients with primary tumors characterized by elevated levels of both angiogenic factors. This is the first study showing in vivo that two different angiogenic peptides concur in the progression of human breast cancer. The biology and possible therapeutic implications of this observation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-83
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Angiogenesis
  • Breast cancer
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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