, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 283-290

Non-Angiogenic Functions of VEGF in Breast Cancer

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Abstract

This review advances the hypothesis that the function of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in breast cancer is not limited to angiogenesis, and that VEGF signaling in breast carcinoma cells is important for the ability of these cells to evade apoptosis and progress towards invasive and metastatic disease. In other terms, VEGF signaling provides a selective advantage for the survival and dissemination of breast carcinoma cells that may be independent of angiogenesis. The key component of this hypothesis is that breast carcinoma cells express specific VEGF receptors and that these receptors respond to autocrine VEGF, resulting in the activation of signaling pathways that impede apoptosis and promote cell migration. A related hypothesis, which is developed in this review, is that the α6β4 integrin, which has been implicated in the survival and motility of breast cancer cells, can stimulate the translation of VEGF mRNA and, consequently, autocrine VEGF signaling. These findings imply that VEGF and VEGF receptor-based therapeutics, in addition to targeting angiogenesis, may also target tumor cells directly.