Possible prognostic and therapeutic significance of c-kit expression, mast cell count and microvessel density in renal cell carcinoma

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Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most frequent renal tumor and its incidence is increasing worldwide. Tumor angiogenesis is known to play a crucial role in the etiopathogenesis of RCC and over the last few years an even deeper knowledge of its contribution in metastatic RCC development has led to the development of numerous molecular targeting agents (such as sunitinib, sorafenib, pazopanib, axitinib, tivozanib, and dovitinib). The above agents are principally directed against vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) members and also against c-Kit receptor (c-KitR). The role of c-kitR inhibition on clear cell RCC (ccRCC), the main RCC subtype, is less well established. Whether c-kitR activation through its ligand, stem cell factor (SCF) contributes significantly to the effects of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) treatment remains to be established. It is important to underscore that the c-KitR is expressed on mast cells (MCs) and cancer cells. After an examination of the c-KitR/SCF pathway, we review here the principal studies that have evaluated c-Kit expression in RCC. Moreover, we summarize some investigations that have observed the distribution of MCs in primary renal cancer and in adjacent normal tissue with appropriate histological immunohistochemical techniques. We also focus on few studies that have evaluated the correlation between RCC proliferation, MC count and microvessel density (MVD), as hallmarks of tumor angiogenesis. Thus, the aim of this review of the literature is to clarify if c-KitR expression, MC count and MVD could have prognostic significance and the possible predictive therapeutic implications in RCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13060-13076
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 23 2014


  • c-Kit receptor
  • Mast cells
  • Microvessel density
  • Molecular targeting agents
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Stem cell factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Medicine(all)


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