The VEGF pathway and the AKT/mTOR/p70S6K1 signalling pathway in human epithelial ovarian cancer

XB Trinh, WAA Tjalma, PB Vermeulen, G Van den Eynden, I Van der Auwera, SJ Van Laere, Jozien Helleman, Els Berns, LY Dirix, PA van Dam

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Abstract

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A inhibitors exhibit unseen high responses and toxicity in recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer suggesting an important role for the VEGF/VEGFR pathway. We studied the correlation of VEGF signalling and AKT/mTOR signalling. Using a tissue microarray of clinical samples (N = 86), tumour cell immunohistochemical staining of AKT/mTOR downstream targets, pS6 and p4E-BP1, together with tumour cell staining of VEGF-A and pVEGFR2 were semi-quantified. A correlation was found between the marker for VEGFR2 activation (pVEGFR2) and a downstream target of AKT/mTOR signalling (pS6) (R = 0.29; P = 0.002). Additional gene expression analysis in an independent cDNA microarray dataset (N = 24) showed a negative correlation (R = -0.73, P<0.0001) between the RPS6 and the VEGFR2 gene, which is consistent as the gene expression and phosphorylation of S6 is inversely regulated. An activated tumour cell VEGFR2/AKT/mTOR pathway was associated with increased incidence of ascites (chi(2), P = 0.002) and reduced overall survival of cisplatin-taxane-based patients with serous histology (N = 32, log-rank test, P = 0.04). These data propose that VEGF-A signalling acts on tumour cells as a stimulator of the AKT/mTOR pathway. Although VEGF-A inhibitors are classified as anti-angiogenic drugs, these data suggest that the working mechanism has an important additional modality of targeting the tumour cells directly.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)971-978
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Volume100
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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