B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) cells have a long survival owing to an alteration in the normal pathways of apoptosis. CLL cells have been found to produce and secrete vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). In addition to its major role in angiogenesis, VEGF affects cell survival by interfering with apoptosis. The aim of the present study was to investigate the expression of the VEGF receptors VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, and VEGFR-3 on B-CLL cells, singly and combined. B-CLL cells were isolated from peripheral blood drawn from patients with CLL. Total VEGF receptor, examined in 13 samples by flow cytometery was present in all cases with mean CD19+/VEGF+ expression of 76% (range 52-92%). Specific receptor expression, examined in 27 samples by immunocytochemical methods, was positive for VEGFR-1 in all 27 patients and for VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 in 26 (96%). These findings suggest that the VEGF transduction pathway may be very active in CLL cells, and both its paracrine and autocrine pathways may contribute to their enhanced survival.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia