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Platelets and Granulocytes, in Particular the Neutrophils, Form Important Compartments for Circulating Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor

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The measurement of circulating vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels as a prognostic factor will gain increasing relevance in the diagnosis and evaluation of treatment in cancer patients. Angiogenesis is an absolute requirement in tumour growth and metastatic disease. In the present study data are presented which indicate that circulating VEGF mainly resides in peripheral blood cells. In 15 healthy volunteers we demonstrated that approximately 34% of the circulating VEGF resides in platelets and approximately 11% in patients with cancer (n= 4). An important part namely 58% in healthy volunteers and 69% in patients with cancer of the total circulating VEGF is contained in granulocytes, particular in the neutrophils, as confirmed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Also an increased VEGF level per granulocyte is found in patients with cancer (77 μg VEGF/l) compared with the healthy volunteers (164 μg VEGF/l). In contrast only 2% was present in plasma. The biological significance of platelet- or granulocyte-derived VEGF is not yet known. Liberation of VEGF from these compartments could well be of importance for tumour angiogenesis. Therefore, future studies on the clinical value of circulating VEGF as a prognostic factor in cancer patients should include measurements of VEGF in peripheral blood cells.

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Correspondence to Geke A.P. Hospers.

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Kusumanto, Y.H., Dam, W.A., Hospers, G.A. et al. Platelets and Granulocytes, in Particular the Neutrophils, Form Important Compartments for Circulating Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor. Angiogenesis 6, 283–287 (2003).

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