Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A (VEGF-A) and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) as Potential Biomarkers for Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Sri Lankan Study

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka.

2 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda Sri Lanka.

3 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Pengkalan Chepa, Kota Baru, Kelantan, Malaysia.

4 Sir John Walsh Research Institute, New Zealand.

5 Department of Oral Diagnostic and Surgical Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

6 University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

7 National Cancer Institute of Sri Lanka, Maharagama, Sri Lanka.


Background: The incidence of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is very high in South Asia and Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the key factors essential for cancer growth. The importance of VEGF-A and VEGF Receptor 2(VEGFR-2) in oral cancer pathophysiology is yet to be decided. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A (VEGF-A) is the main factor concerned in angiogenesis in tumors, but its role in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC) is still debatable. Our study aimed to determine the role of VEGF-A and VEGFR-2 in OSCC. Methods: Blood specimens from 30 patients with primary OSCC and 1:1 age-sex-matched controls were subjected to qPCR and ELISA to detect VEGF-A gene expression and serum level. Tumors of the 30 patients were investigated for VEGF Receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) expression and were analyzed using Image J software version 1.52 for DAB percentage (DAB-P) area and optical density (OD). Results: VEGF-A relative gene expression among patients was 2.43-fold higher compared to the healthy control group. Well-differentiated tumors had a 1.98-fold increment, of VEGF gene expression, while poorly differentiated had a 3.58-fold increment. Serum VEGF-A was significantly elevated among the patients compared to controls (458.7 vs 253.2, p=0.0225). Patients with poorly differentiated tumors had a higher serum VEGF concentration (1262.0±354.7pg/ml) compared with other two. Mean VEGFR-2 DAB-P level in OSCC was 42.41±5.61(p=0.15). Well-differentiated tumors had a DAB-P of 41.20±5.32 while poorly differentiated had DAB-P 46.21±3.78. The mean OD in OSCC was 0.54±0.16. VEGFR-2 OD in well and poorly differentiated OSCC were 0.48±0.12 and 0.68±0.17, respectively. Conclusions: VEGF-A gene expression, serum levels, and tissue VEGFR-2 levels correlated linearly with the stage and grade of the tumor. This study justifies the value of VEGF-A as a potential biomarker in OSCC in early detection of OSCC. More studies are needed to accept the use of VEGF-A. 


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