Background and aims Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene expression has been linked to cancer progression. Here we hypothesise that the polymorphism and protein expression of VEGF are correlated with the pathogenesis and therapy response of pterygium.
Methods 60 pterygial and 121 normal conjunctival samples were collected to determine the genotypes and protein expression of VEGF. Primary pterygium cells (PECs) were used to confirm the effect of the VEGF polymorphism on the angiogenesis of pterygium.
Results 48 (83.3%) pterygial specimens tested positive for VEGF protein expression, which was significantly higher than in the control groups (16.7%, p<0.0001). The frequency of the 936 C>T variant, but not the −2578C>A variant, was significantly higher in the pterygium group compared with the control group. VEGF protein expression was significantly higher in the 936 C/C group than in the 936 C/T and T/T groups (p=0.001). The results of our cell model showed that PECs with the C/C genotype had a higher angiogenesis ability and higher response to the antiangiogenesis drug bevacizumab than cells with the C/T and T/T genotypes.
Conclusions We suggest that VEGF could be used as a target for pterygium therapy in patients with the 936C>T genotype.