Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor 3 (VEGFR-3) (also called VEGFR-3) is activated by its specific ligand, VEGF-C, which promotes cancer progression. The VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 axis is expressed not only by lymphatic endothelial cells but also by a variety of human tumour cells. Activation of the VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 axis in lymphatic endothelial cells can facilitate metastasis by increasing the formation of lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis) within and around tumours. The VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 axis plays a critical role in leukaemic cell proliferation, survival, and resistance to chemotherapy. Moreover, activation of the VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 axis in several types of solid tumours enhances cancer cell mobility and invasion capabilities, promoting cancer cell metastasis. In this review, we discuss the novel function and molecular mechanism of the VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 axis in cancer progression.
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