High VEGF expression in ovarian cancer is an unfavorable prognostic factor. However, the role of VEGF in tumor immunity remains unclear. Here, we examined the impact of VEGF on local immunity, including induction of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), in ovarian cancer. High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) cases were analyzed by gene expression microarray and IHC for VEGF, CD8, and CD33. VEGF receptor (VEGFR) 1 and VEGFR2 expression levels on MDSCs were analyzed in a mouse model, and the direct effects of VEGF-A on MDSC expansion were investigated. Gr1 Microarray analysis revealed the upregulation of several myeloid cell chemoattractants and the downregulation of lymphocyte-related pathways in cases with high VEGF expression. In immunohistochemical analysis, VEGF expression in peritoneal dissemination correlated with MDSC infiltration. Cases with high MDSC infiltration, which was inversely correlated with intratumoral CD8 VEGF expression in ovarian cancer induced MDSCs, inhibited local immunity, and contributed to poor prognosis. Clin Cancer Res; 23(2); 587-99. ©2016 AACR.
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