Immunohistochemical analysis of VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 system and lymphatic vessel extent in normal and adenomatous human pituitary tissues

C. Onofri, M. Losa, E. Uhl, G. K. Stalla, U. Renner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The angiogenic growth factor Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-C (VEGF-C) and its receptor VEGFR-3 are also known to be implicated in the development of lymphatic vessels. We assessed the expression of VEGF-C and VEGFR-3, together with blood and lymphatic vessel extents and proliferation index (PI) values, by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in 6 normal human pituitary glands and 53 pituitary adenomas of different tumour grade, on consecutive tissue sections. VEGF-C was detected in around 10% of the endocrine cells in normal pituitary tissue, while this gland was devoid of lymphatic vascularization and showed very few vessels positive for VEGFR-3. Concerning tumour tissue, most of the adenomas showing VEGF-C immunoreactivity (21/47) were positive in 60% of the tumour cells and the ones positive for VEGFR-3 showed a number of immunostained vessels higher than those observed in the normal pituitary. Most of the tumours positive for VEGFR-3 did not show any LYVE-1 positive vessels (18/53), suggesting that at least in these cases, VEGFR-3 is expressed on blood vessels. Nevertheless, we observed a significant association between low expression of VEGFR-3 and low lymphatic vessel number, suggesting that VEGFR-3 might be involved in the starting of de novo lymphangiogenesis in this tumour type. Moreover, tumours bearing lymphatic vessels showed the tendency to shift towards a more aggressive behaviour (high tumour grade and high PI). In conclusion, the VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 system might be involved in controlling tumour angiogenesis in the pituitary adenomas lacking lymphatic vessels, but may also play a role in starting the process of tumour lymphangiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-157
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental and Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Lymphatic vessels
  • LYVE-1
  • Pituitary adenomas
  • VEGF-C
  • VEGFR-3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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