Background and objective Heparanase has been thought to be a good molecular marker of tumor, and the heparanase expression level was correlated closely with tumor metastasis. In this study, we investigate the effects of heparanase on angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis of lung cancer and the relationship between heparanase expression and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C). Methods Immunohistochemistry was used to detect the expression of heparanase, VEGF, VEGF-C protein and microvascular density (MVD), lymphatic vessel density (LVD) in 115 cases of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and 45 cases of adjacent normal tissue samples. Results Our results showed that heparanase expression was significantly increased in 91 (79.13%) of the 115 cases and correlated with lymph node metastasis (node positive rate 87.0%; node negative rate 36.8%; P=0.003). Heparanase positive expression cases have significantly higher concentration of microvascular density (MVD) and lymphatic vessel density (LVD) as compared with heparanase negative expression cases (P<0.01, P<0.01, respectively), heparanase expression was significantly correlated with VEGF, VEGF-C expression in NSCLC. Conclusion Heparanase overexpression was associated with angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis of lung cancer, targeting of heparanase may represent a significant therapeutic potential for lung cancer
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