Platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor (PD-ECGF) was isolated as an endothelial cell mitogen from platelets. In this study, we investigated the expression of PD-ECGF and counted microvessels in 58 oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) specimens by an immunohistochemical technique to examine their prognostic significance and performed tumor in vitro sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and cisplatin as determined by a bioluminescence assay of the ATP values of tumor cells after continuous exposure. The percentage of PD-ECGF-positive tumor cells (PD-ECGF score) was correlated with the frequency of the recurrence of disease (P=0.0043) but not with sex, tumor size, metastasis, or clinical stage. Overall survival of the high PD-ECGF expression group (>40% PD-ECGF score) was shorter than the low expression (<40%) group (P=0.0365). Vessel count was correlated with lymph node metastasis and clinical stage. The survival of patients with hypervascularity (more than the median of intratumor vessel counts, >82) was shorter than that of those with hypovascularity (vessel count <81, P=0.0446). However, there was no association between PD-ECGF expression and vessel count. Cox proportional multivariate analysis showed that PD-ECGF expression was the most significant independent prognostic indicator for overall survival. The susceptibility to 5-FU cytotoxicity in the extremely high PD-ECGF expression groups (>70% of PD-ECGF score) was significantly higher than that in the low group, whereas there was no difference in their sensitivity to cisplatin. These results showed that carcinoma cells with high PD-ECGF expression were sensitive to 5-FU in spite of poor prognosis. These data provide further information when deciding on adjuvant therapy for oral and oropharyngeal SCCs.

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