Introduction: Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (GEP-NENs) are an increasing tumor entity. Since many patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage, treatment is still challenging and dependent on many tumor and patient specific factors. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to elucidate the expression rates and the prognostic value of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) 1-3 in GEP-NENs. A potential association to immune checkpoint markers was further investigated. Material and Methods: The expression levels of VEGFR 1-3 were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and correlated with the expression of the checkpoint markers PD-1 and PD-L1. Furthermore, the tumor samples of 249 GEP-NEN patients were studied and correlated with overall survival rates and clinicopathological features. Kaplan–Meier analyses and the log rank test were used for survival analyses. Categorical variables were compared by the χ2 test. Results: The most common primary tumor site was the small intestine (50.6%), followed by the pancreas (25.7%). VEGFR 1 was highly expressed in 59%, VEGFR 2 in 6.4%, and VEGFR 3 in 61.8% of the analyzed samples. The expression of VEGFR 1-3 was not significantly associated with survival rates. Pancreatic NENs had the highest expression of VEGFR 1 and 3 in 80% of the cases. VEGFR 1-3 positivity correlated with the expression levels of immune checkpoint markers. Discussion: VEGFR 1-3 show a distinct expression pattern in different subgroups of neuroendocrine neoplasias indicating a conceivable target. Moreover, there was a substantial association between VEGFRs andimmune checkpoint markers. Taken together, anti-VEGFR therapy represents a promising therapeutic approach in GEP-NEN patients and should be addressed in future studies.
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