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Metastasis is a frequent and lethal complication of cancer. Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) is a recently described lymphangiogenic factor. Increased expression of VEGF-C in primary tumours correlates with dissemination of tumour cells to regional lymph nodes. However, a direct role for VEGF-C in tumour lymphangiogenesis and subsequent metastasis has yet to be demonstrated. Here we report the establishment of transgenic mice in which VEGF-C expression, driven by the rat insulin promoter (Rip), is targeted to beta-cells of the endocrine pancreas. In contrast to wild-type mice, which lack peri-insular lymphatics, RipVEGF-C transgenics develop an extensive network of lymphatics around the islets of Langerhans. These mice were crossed with Rip1Tag2 mice, which develop pancreatic beta-cell tumours that are neither lymphangiogenic nor metastatic. Double-transgenic mice formed tumours surrounded by well developed lymphatics, which frequently contained tumour cell masses of beta-cell origin. These mice frequently developed pancreatic lymph node metastases. Our findings demonstrate that VEGF-C-induced lymphangiogenesis mediates tumour cell dissemination and the formation of lymph node metastases.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/emboj/20.4.672

Type

Journal article

Journal

EMBO J

Publication Date

15/02/2001

Volume

20

Pages

672 - 682

Keywords

Animals, DNA, Complementary, Endothelial Growth Factors, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Lymphatic System, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Neoplasm Metastasis, Pancreas, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor C