BACKGROUND: Interferon gamma (IFNγ) and tumor necrosis factor-related weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) molecules seem to have a potential effect on angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The aim of this study was to assess a possible interplay between IFNγ and TWEAK cytokines and VEGF machinery in the different steps of colorectal carcinogenesis.
METHODS: A total of 92 subjects with colonic adenoma or cancer who underwent screening colonoscopy or surgery were prospectively enrolled. Polypoid lesion tissue samples were collected and frozen. Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for IFNγ, TWEAK, and VEGF-A mRNA expression was performed. Immunoassays for VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, and VEGFR-3 were also performed. Nonparametric statistics, receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, and logistic multiple regression analysis were used.
RESULTS: IFNγ and TWEAK mRNA expression was higher in patients with T2 or more advanced colorectal cancer than in those with adenomas or T1 cancer (p < 0.001 and p = 0.01, respectively). IFNγ and TWEAK mRNA expression levels directly correlated with VEGF-A mRNA expression levels (rho = 0.44, p < 0.001 and rho = 0.29, p = 0.004, respectively). On the contrary, IFNγ and TWEAK mRNA expression levels inversely correlated with VEGF-C protein levels (rho = -0.29, p = 0.04 and rho = -0.31, p = 0.03, respectively). Similarly, IFNγ and TWEAK mRNA expression levels inversely correlated with VEGFR2 protein levels (rho = -0.38, p = 0.033 and rho = -0.40, p = 0.025, respectively).
CONCLUSION: This study showed that in colorectal polypoid lesions, IFNγ and TWEAK expressions are directly correlated to VEGF-A expression but inversely correlated with VEGFR2 levels, suggesting a possible feedback mechanism in the regulation of VEGF-A expression.