Enhanced VEGF-A (vascular endothelial growth factor A) gene expression is associated with increased tumor growth and metastatic spread of solid malignancies including gastric cancer. Oxidative stress has been linked to tumor-associated neoangiogenesis; underlying mechanisms, however, remained poorly understood. Therefore, we studied the effect of oxidative stress on VEGF-A gene expression in gastric cancer cells. Oxidative stress generated by H(2)O(2) application potently stimulated VEGF-A protein and mRNA levels as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and real-time PCR techniques, respectively, and elevated the activity of a transfected (-2018) VEGF-A promoter reporter gene construct in a time- and dose-dependent manner (4-8-fold). These effects were abolished by the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine, demonstrating specificity of oxidative stress responses. Functional 5' deletion analysis mapped the oxidative stress response element of the human VEGF-A promoter to the sequence -88/-50, and a single copy of this element was sufficient to confer basal promoter activity as well as oxidative stress responsiveness to a heterologous promoter system. Combination of EMSA studies, Sp1/Sp3 overexpression experiments in Drosophila SL-2 cells, and systematic promoter mutagenesis identified enhanced Sp1 and Sp3 binding to two GC-boxes at -73/-66 and -58/-52 as the core mechanism of oxidative stress-triggered VEGF-A transactivation. Additionally, in Gal4-Sp1/-Sp3-Gal4-luciferase assays, oxidative stress increased Sp1 but not Sp3 transactivating capacity, indicating additional mechanism(s) of VEGF-A gene regulation. Signaling studies identified a cascade comprising Ras --> Raf --> MEK1 --> ERK1/2 as the main pathway mediating oxidative stress-stimulated VEGF-A transcription. This study for the first time delineates the mechanisms underlying regulation of VEGF-A gene transcription by oxidative stress and thereby further elucidates potential pathways underlying redox control of neoangiogenesis.
Long bone development depends on endochondral bone formation, a complex process requiring exquisite balance between hypertrophic cartilage (HC) formation and its ossification. Dysregulation of this process may result in skeletal dysplasias and heterotopic ossification. Endochondral ossification requires the precise orchestration of HC vascularization, extracellular matrix remodeling, and the recruitment of osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and osteoclasts have all been shown to regulate endochondral ossification, but how their function interrelates is not known. We have investigated the functional relationship among these regulators of endochondral ossification, demonstrating that they have complementary but non-overlapping functions. MMP-9, VEGF and osteoclast deficiency all cause impaired growth plate ossification resulting in the accumulation of HC. VEGF mRNA and protein expression are increased at the MMP-9-/- growth plate, and VEGF activity contributes to endochondral ossification since sequestration of VEGF by soluble receptors results in further inhibition of growth plate vascularization and ossification. However, VEGF bioavailability is still limited in MMP-9 deficiency, as exogenous VEGF is able to rescue the MMP-9-/- phenotype, demonstrating that MMP-9 may partially, but not fully, regulate VEGF bioavailability. The organization of the HC extracellular matrix at the MMP-9-/- growth plate is altered, supporting a role for MMP-9 in HC remodeling. Inhibition of VEGF impairs osteoclast recruitment, whereas MMP-9 deficiency leads to an accumulation of osteoclasts at the chondro-osseous junction. Growth plate ossification in osteoclast-deficient mice is impaired in the presence of normal MMP-9 expression, indicating that other osteoclastic functions are also necessary. Our data delineate the complementary interplay between MMP-9, VEGF and osteoclast function that is necessary for normal endochondral bone formation and provide a molecular framework for investigating the molecular defects contributing to disorders of endochondral bone formation.
The role of angiogenesis in the development of neoplasia has been identified and characterized. However, antiangiogenic therapeutic intervention still requires more evidence to become recognized and successful. The aim of this study was to evaluate levels of selected proangiogenic factors, such as fibrinogen, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) in serum of patients with the gynecologic cancer on the first, third and sixth day of antibiotic therapy, routinely administered as a perioperative treatment. In addition, serum concentrations of gamma-gamma dimers and alpha-polymers of cross-linked fibrin structure and the degree of bFGF binding with the fibrin network were investigated. Immunohistochemistry staining of the excised tumor tissue was also performed. We observed higher levels of bFGF, VEGF, as well as fibrinogen in patients with gynecologic malignancy, as compared to healthy women. In cancer patients, the concentration of alpha-polymers and gamma-gamma dimers of fibrin network increased. Further only gamma-gamma dimers fraction of fibrin was found to bind to bFGF. Immunohistochemical analysis indicated the presence of bFGF in an excised tumor tissue. In conclusion, the decrease of proangiogenic bFGF and fibrinogen levels in a clinical trial of gynecologic patients may confirm anti-angiogenic properties of selected antibiotic therapy.
The delivery of blood-borne molecules conveying metabolic information to neural networks that regulate energy homeostasis is restricted by brain barriers. The fenestrated endothelium of median eminence microvessels and tight junctions between tanycytes together compose one of these. Here, we show that the decrease in blood glucose levels during fasting alters the structural organization of this blood-hypothalamus barrier, resulting in the improved access of metabolic substrates to the arcuate nucleus. These changes are mimicked by 2-deoxyglucose-induced glucoprivation and reversed by raising blood glucose levels after fasting. Furthermore, we show that VEGF-A expression in tanycytes modulates these barrier properties. The neutralization of VEGF signaling blocks fasting-induced barrier remodeling and significantly impairs the physiological response to refeeding. These results implicate glucose in the control of blood-hypothalamus exchanges through a VEGF-dependent mechanism and demonstrate a hitherto unappreciated role for tanycytes and the permeable microvessels associated with them in the adaptive metabolic response to fasting.
Successful islet transplantation depends on the infusion of sufficiently large quantities of islets, of which only approximately 30% become stably engrafted. Rapid and adequate revascularization of transplanted islets is important for islet survival and function. Delayed and insufficient revascularization can deprive islets of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in islet cell death and early graft failure. To improve islet revascularization, we delivered human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) cDNA to murine islets, followed by transplantation under the renal capsule in diabetic mice. Diabetic animals receiving a marginal mass of 300 islets that were pretransduced with a VEGF vector exhibited near normoglycemia. In contrast, diabetic mice receiving an equivalent number of islets that were transduced with a control vector remained hyperglycemic. Immunohistochemistry with anti-insulin and anti-CD31 antibodies revealed a relatively higher insulin content and greater degree of microvasculature in the VEGF vector-transduced islet grafts, which correlated with significantly improved blood glucose profiles and enhanced insulin secretion in response to glucose challenge in this group of diabetic recipient mice. These results demonstrate that VEGF production in islets stimulates graft angiogenesis and enhances islet revascularization. This mechanism might be explored as a novel strategy to accelerate islet revascularization and improve long-term survival of functional islet mass posttransplantation.
Neurovascular injury comprises a wide spectrum of pathophysiology that underlies the progression of brain injury after cerebral ischemia. Recently, it has been shown that activation of the integrin-associated protein CD47 mediates the development of blood-brain barrier injury and edema after cerebral ischemia. However, the mechanisms that mediate these complex neurovascular effects of CD47 remain to be elucidated. Here, we compare the effects of CD47 signaling in brain endothelial cells, astrocytes, and pericytes. Exposure to 4N1 K, a specific CD47-activating peptide derived from the major CD47 ligand thrombospondin-1, upregulated two major neurovascular mediators, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), in brain endothelial cells and astrocytes. No changes were detected in pericytes. These findings may provide a potential mechanism for CD47-induced changes in blood-brain barrier homeostasis, and further suggest that CD47 may be a relevant neurovascular target in stroke.
Sunitinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) targeting tumour angiogenesis in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Currently no universally agreed model exists correlating the expression of angiogenesis markers with the success of treatment.
We retrospectively analysed archival tissue for 59 RCC patients treated with sunitinib. The expression of angiogenesis markers VEGF-A, VEGFR, PDGFββ, PDGFR, CCND1 and CA9 was assessed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and correlated with overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS).
The median OS and median PFS of the whole group of patients was 24.6 months (17.3-34.2) and 19.5 months (11-27) respectively. VEGFA was positive in 29% of tumors, whereas VEGFR was expressed in only 12% of tumours. PDGFββ and its receptor were detected in a minority of cases. CCND1 and CA9 were positive in 44% and 60% of cases.
The OS and PFS achieved by our patients reflected previous observations seen with sunitinib, but no correlation was found between expression of angiogenesis markers and clinical outcome.
Levels of serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) indicate thyroid function, because thyroid hormone negatively controls TSH release. Genetic variants in the vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) gene are associated with TSH levels. The aim of this study was to characterise the association of VEGFA variants with TSH in a Danish cohort and to identify and characterise functional variants.
We performed an association study of the VEGFA locus for circulating TSH levels in 8445 Danish individuals. Lead variants were tested for allele-specific effects in vitro using luciferase reporter and gel-shift assays.
Four SNPs in VEGFA were associated with circulating TSH (rs9472138, rs881858, rs943080 and rs4711751). For rs881858, the presence of each G-allele was associated with a corresponding decrease in TSH levels of 2.3% (p=8.4×10-9) and an increase in circulating free T4 levels (p=0.0014). The SNP rs881858 is located in a binding site for CHOP (C/EBP homology protein) and c/EBPβ (ccaat enhancer binding protein β). Reporter-gene analysis showed increased basal enhancer activity of the rs881858 A-allele versus the G-allele (34.5±9.9% (average±SEM), p=0.0012), while co-expression of CHOP effectively suppressed the rs881858 A-allele activity. The A-allele showed stronger binding to CHOP in gel-shift assays.
VEGF is an important angiogenic signal required for tissue expansion. We show that VEGFA variation giving allele-specific response to transcription factors with overlapping binding sites associate closely with circulating TSH levels. Because CHOP is induced by several types of intracellular stress, this indicates that cellular stress could be involved in the normal or pathophysiological response of the thyroid to TSH.
NCT00289237, NCT00316667; Results.
Many degenerative processes in the skeletal system are induced by mechanical overload. Osteoarthritis and spontaneous tendon ruptures are two examples of mechanically influenced diseases. Incubator-housed compression apparatuses and cyclic strain chambers are adequate models to investigate the cellular processes. Recent studies have shown that growth factors are involved in the transduction pathways of mechanical overload leading to tissue degradation. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a dimerized, 45 kDa peptide that normally attracts endothelial cells in wound healing. VEGF can be detected in the superficial zone of the tibial plateau in osteoarthritic (OA) patients with degenerative changes but not in healthy articular cartilage. Blood vessels are only rarely observed in OA cartilage suggesting that there are other roles for VEGF in cartilage. VEGF is also detectable in ruptured but not in normal tendons. The mechanically induced expression of VEGF in avascular tissues like articular cartilage or fibrocartilage of contact areas from gliding tendons initiates degenerative processes. Chondrocytes from OA cartilage also express the VEGF receptor 2. In vitro assays have shown that VEGF binds the VEGFR-2 leading to a phosphorylation of MAP kinases (ERK1/2) with subsequent transcription factor accumulation (activator protein 1 = AP-1). One of the antagonists of VEGF is endostatin. Endostatin, a fragment of collagen type XVIII, is expressed in avascular tissues and has the potency to decrease VEGF induced effects (ERK1/2 phosphorylation). The increase in matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) production and the decrease in tissue inhibitor metalloproteinase (TIMP) synthesis is a result of the signal transduction cascade activation. MMPs participate in the degradation processes of osteoarthritis whereas TIMPs are inhibitors of the MMPs. Taken together mechanically induced VEGF is involved in the destruction and endostatin in the maintenance of avascular tissues of the bone and joint system.
To investigate the expression level of plasma vascular endothelial growth factor (P-VEGF) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and its relationship with the clinicopathologic characteristics, and to examine the changes of P-VEGF in the course of transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE).
Peripheral blood samples were taken from 45 HCC patients before and 1, 3, 7 d, and 1 mo after TACE. Plasma VEGF level was measured with the quantitative sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Twenty patients with benign liver lesions and 17 healthy control subjects were also included in this study.
Plasma VEGF levels in HCC patients were significantly elevated as compared to those in patients with benign liver lesions (P = 0.006) and in the normal controls (P = 0.003). Significant differences were observed when P-VEGF was categorized by tumor size (P = 0.006), portal vein thrombosis (P = 0.011), distant metastasis (P = 0.017), arterial-portal vein shunting (P = 0.026), and International Union Against Cancer (UICC) TNM stage (P = 0.044). There was no correlation between plasma level of VEGF and the level of alpha fetoprotein (alpha-FP) (r = 0.068, P = 0.658) and weakly correlated with the number of platelets (r = 0.312, P = 0.038). P-VEGF levels increased significantly and reached the peak value on the first day after TACE, and then decreased gradually. The change rate of P-VEGF concentration (one month post-TACE/pre-TACEX100%) was correlated with the retention rate of lipiodol oil (r s = 0.494, P = 0.001) and the tumor volume change (r s = 0.340, P = 0.034). The patients who achieved a partial or complete response to TACE therapy showed significantly less pre-treatment P-VEGF than those nonresponders (P = 0.025). A high pre-therapeutic P-VEGF level was associated with poor response to treatment (P = 0.018).
A high pre-treatment P-VEGF level is a useful marker for tumor progression, especially for vascular invasion. TACE increases the level of P-VEGF only temporarily which may be associated with tumor ischemia. P-VEGF may be useful in predicting treatment response, monitoring disease course after TACE and judging the effect of different TACE regimens.
Vascular endothelial growth factor A (referred to as VEGF) is implicated in colon cancer growth. Currently, the main accepted mechanism by which VEGF promotes colon cancer growth is via the stimulation of angiogenesis, which was originally postulated by late Judah Folkman. However, the cellular source of VEGF in colon cancer tissue; and, the expression of VEGF and its receptors VEGF-R1 and VEGF-R2 in colon cancer cells are not fully known and are subjects of controversy.
We examined and quantified expression of VEGF, VEGF-R1 and VEGF-R2 in three different human colonic tissue arrays containing sections of adenocarcinoma (n=43) and normal mucosa (n = 41). In human colon cancer cell lines HCT116 and HT29 and normal colon cell lines NCM356 and NCM460, we examined expression of VEGF, VEGF-R1 and VEGF-R2 mRNA and protein, VEGF production and secretion into the culture medium; and, the effect of a potent, selective inhibitor of VEGF receptors, AL-993, on cell proliferation.
Human colorectal cancer specimens had strong expression of VEGF in cancer cells and also expressed VEGF-R1 and VEGF-R2.In vitro studies showed that human colon cancer cell lines, HCT116 and HT29, but not normal colonic cell lines, express VEGF, VEGF-R1 and VEGF-R2 and secrete VEGF into the medium up to a concentration 2000 pg/ml within 48 h. Furthermore, we showed that inhibition of VEGF receptors using a specific VEGF-R inhibitor significantly reduced proliferation (by >50%) of cultured colon cancer cell lines.
Our findings support the contention that VEGF generated by colon cancer cells stimulates their growth directly through an autocrine mechanism that is independent of its primary function in the induction of angiogenesis.
The hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFα) are the critical factors that couple angiogenesis and osteogenesis by activating transcription of VEGF in osteoblasts. Mice lacking von Hippel-Lindau gene (Vhl), thus overexpressing HIFα in osteoblasts develop extremely dense and highly vascularized long bones. Here we provide evidence that osteoblasts lacking Vhl overexpress and secrete high levels of VEGF, which subsequently promotes the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC) by promoting expression of Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in BMSC. Conditioned medium from osteoblasts Vhl (CM-CRE) promoted the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of BMSC, in comparison with conditioned medium derived from normal osteoblasts (CM-GFP). Recombinant VEGF stimulated the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of BMSC culturing in CM-GFP. By contrast, VEGF-neutralizing antibody inhibited the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of BMSC culturing in CM-CRE. Treatment with a HO-1 inhibitor, SnPP, significantly inhibited VEGF-induced BMSC proliferation and osteogenic differentiation. On the contrary, activation of HO-1 with CoPP reversed the suppressing of VEGF-antibody on the proliferation and osteogesis of BMSC culturing in CM-CRE. These studies suggest that osteoblasts promote the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of BMCS by VEGF/HO-1 pathway.
Angiogenesis is essential in bone fracture healing for restoring blood flow to the fracture site. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor have been implicated in this process. Despite the importance of angiogenesis for the healing processes of damaged bones, the role of VEGF signaling in modulation of osteogenic differentiation in human mesenchymal stem cells has not been investigated in great detail. We examined the expression of VEGF-A and VEGFR-1 in human adult mesenchymal stem cells derived from trabecular bone (hTBCs). VEGF-A was found to be secreted in a differentiation dependent manner during osteogenesis. Transcripts for VEGF-A were also seen to be elevated during osteogenesis. In addition, transcripts for VEGF-A and the corresponding receptor VEGFR-1 were upregulated under hypoxic conditions in undifferentiated hTBCs. To investigate the signaling of VEGF-A on osteogenesis recombinant hTBCs were generated. High expression of VEGF-A stimulated mineralization, whereas high expression of sFLT-1, an antagonist to VEGF-A, reduced mineralization suggesting that VEGF-A acts as autocrine factor for osteoblast differentiation. In addition, VEGF-A secreted by hTBCs promotes sprouting of endothelial cells (HUVE) demonstrating a paracrine role in blood vessel formation. In summary, an in vitro analysis of transgene effects on cellular behavior can be used to predict an effective ex vivo gene therapy.
A key adaptation to environmental hypoxia is an increase in erythropoiesis, driven by the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) through what is traditionally thought to be primarily a renal response. However, both neurons and astrocytes (the largest subpopulation of glial cells in the CNS) also express EPO following ischemic injury, and this response is known to ameliorate damage to the brain. To investigate the role of glial cells as a component of the systemic response to hypoxia, we created astrocyte-specific deletions of the murine genes encoding the hypoxia-inducible transcription factors HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha and their negative regulator von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) as well as astrocyte-specific deletion of the HIF target gene Vegf. We found that loss of the hypoxic response in astrocytes does not cause anemia in mice but is necessary for approximately 50% of the acute erythropoietic response to hypoxic stress. In accord with this, erythroid progenitor cells and reticulocytes were substantially reduced in number in mice lacking HIF function in astrocytes following hypoxic stress. Thus, we have demonstrated that the glial component of the CNS is an essential component of hypoxia-induced erythropoiesis.
Proliferation of cyst-lining epithelial cells is an integral part of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) cyst growth. Cytokines and growth factors within cyst fluids are positioned to induce cyst growth. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a pleiotropic growth factor present in ADPKD liver cyst fluids (human 1,128 +/- 78, mouse 2,787 +/- 136 pg/ml) and, to a lesser extent, in ADPKD renal cyst fluids (human 294 +/- 41, mouse 191 +/- 90 pg/ml). Western blotting showed that receptors for VEGF (VEGFR1 and VEGFR2) were present in both normal mouse bile ducts and pkd2(WS25/-) liver cyst epithelial cells. Treatment of pkd2(WS25/-) liver cyst epithelial cells with VEGF (50-50,000 pg/ml) or liver cyst fluid induced a proliferative response. The effect on proliferation of liver cyst fluid was inhibited by SU-5416, a potent VEGF receptor inhibitor. Treatment of pkd2(WS25/-) mice between 4 and 8 mo of age with SU-5416 markedly reduced the cyst volume density of the liver (vehicle 9.9 +/- 4.3%, SU-5416 1.8 +/- 0.7% of liver). SU-5416 treatment between 4 and 12 mo of age markedly protected against increases in liver weight [pkd2(+/+) 4.8 +/- 0.2%, pkd2(WS25/-)-vehicle 10.8 +/- 1.9%, pkd2(WS25/-)-SU-5416 4.8 +/- 0.4% body wt]. The capacity of VEGF signaling to induce in vitro proliferation of pkd2(WS25/-) liver cyst epithelial cells and inhibition of in vivo VEGF signaling to retard liver cyst growth in pkd2(WS25/-) mice indicates that the VEGF signaling pathway is a potentially important therapeutic target in the treatment of ADPKD liver cyst disease.
Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-D is a member of the PDGF/vascular endothelial growth factor family that activates PDGF receptor beta (PDGFR-beta). We show that PDGF-D is highly expressed in the myocardium throughout development and adulthood, as well as by arterial vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs). To obtain further knowledge regarding the in vivo response to PDGF-D, we generated transgenic mice overexpressing the active core domain of PDGF-D in the heart. Transgenic PDGF-D stimulates proliferation of cardiac interstitial fibroblasts and arterial vSMCs. This results in cardiac fibrosis followed by dilated cardiomyopathy and subsequent cardiac failure. Transgenic mice also display vascular remodeling, including dilation of vessels, increased density of SMC-coated vessels, and proliferation of vSMCs, leading to a thickening of tunica media. The thickening of arterial walls is a unique feature of PDGF-D, because this is not seen when PDGF-C is overexpressed in the heart. These results show that PDGF-D, via PDGFR-beta signaling, is a potent modulator of both vascular and connective tissue growth and may provide both paracrine and autocrine stimulation of PDGFR-beta. Our data raise the possibility that this growth factor may be involved in cardiac fibrosis and atherosclerosis.
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a major problem among very preterm survivors of neonatal intensive care. Neovascularization of the retina is prominent in the proliferative stages of ROP and is under the control of several factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). This study was undertaken on the hypothesis that genetic polymorphisms of VEGF, transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha would occur more frequently in preterm infants with progressive ROP than in those with mild or no disease.
The frequencies of VEGF -634 G-->C, VEGF *936 C-->T, TNF-alpha -308 G-->A, and TGF-beta -509 C-->T were determined in DNA from 91 infants who had received treatment for threshold ROP and 97 comparison infants.
The frequencies of the VEGF *936 C-->T, TNF-alpha -308 G-->A and TGF-beta -509 C-->T polymorphisms were similar in both groups. The distribution of alleles at VEGF -634 was significantly different between the two groups (P = 0.03). Homozygotes for the G allele, associated with higher VEGF production were twice as likely to have threshold ROP.
The progression of ROP to threshold ROP in very preterm infants may be influenced by genetic differences in VEGF production. Future efforts at prevention of threshold ROP may be directed toward blocking excess production of VEGF.
Ovarian cancer is a silent killer, and shows early extensive tumor invasion and peritoneal metastasis. The microcirculation of most tumors includes cooperation of pre-existing vessels, intussusceptive microvascular growth, postnatal vasculogenesis, glomeruloid angiogenesis and vasculogenic mimicry (VM). VM is critical for a tumor blood supply and is asscociated with aggressive features and metastasis. Our studies highlight the plasticity of aggressive human ovarian carcinoma cells and call into question the underlying significance of their ability to form VM in vitro induced by VEGF-a. These studies also show their clinicalpathological features of the cancers with human Paraffin-embedded tumor tissue samples. Results show that the process: VEGF-a-->EphA2-->MMPs-->VM is the main pathway for VM formation and VEGF-a appears to play an important role in the formation of VM based on our in vitro assays and clinical immunohistochemical analyses. VM-targeting strategies for ovarian cancer include anti-VEGF-a treatment, knocking down the EphA2 gene and using antibodies against human MMPs if the tumor is VM positive. This strategy may be of significant value in laying the foundation for a more explicit anti-tumor angiogenesis therapy.
Antiangiogenic therapy based on blocking the actions of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF) can lead to "normalization" of blood vessels in both animal and human tumors. Differential expression of VEGF isoforms affects tumor vascular maturity, which could influence the normalization process and response to subsequent treatment. Fibrosarcoma cells expressing only VEGF120 or VEGF188 isoforms were implanted either subcutaneously (s.c.) or in dorsal skin-fold "window" chambers in SCID mice. VEGF120 was associated with vascular fragility and hemorrhage. Tumor-bearing mice were treated with repeat doses of SU5416, an indolinone receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor with activity against VEGFR-2 and proven preclinical ability to induce tumor vascular normalization. SU5416 reduced vascularization in s.c. implants of both VEGF120 and VEGF188 tumors. However, in the window chamber, SU5416 treatment increased red cell velocity in VEGF120 (representing vascular normalization) but not VEGF188 tumors. SU5416 treatment had no effect on growth or necrosis levels in either tumor type but tended to counteract the increase in interstitial fluid pressure seen with growth of VEGF120 tumors. SU5416 pretreatment resulted in the normally fragile blood vessels in VEGF120-expressing tumors becoming resistant to the vascular damaging effects of the tubulin-binding vascular disrupting agent (VDA), combretastatin A4 3-O-phosphate (CA4P). Thus, vascular normalization induced by antiangiogenic treatment can reduce the efficacy of subsequent VDA treatment. Expression of VEGF120 made tumors particularly susceptible to vascular normalization by SU5416, which in turn made them resistant to CA4P. Therefore, VEGF isoform expression may be useful for predicting response to both antiangiogenic and vascular-disrupting therapy.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption during brain insults leads to vasogenic edema as one of the primary steps in the epileptogenic process. However, the signaling pathway concerning vasogenic edema formation has not been clarified. In the present study, status epilepticus (SE) resulted in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) over-expression accompanied by loss of BBB integrity in the rat piriform cortex. Leptomycin B (LMB, an inhibitor of chromosome region maintenance 1) attenuated SE-induced vasogenic edema formation. This anti-edema effect of LMB was relevant to inhibitions of VEGF over-expression as well as p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation. Furthermore, SB202190 (a p38 MAPK inhibitor) ameliorated vasogenic edema and VEGF over-expression induced by SE. These findings indicate that p38 MAPK/VEGF signaling pathway may be involved in BBB disruption following SE. Thus, we suggest that p38 MAPK/VEGF axis may be one of therapeutic targets for vasogenic edema in various neurological diseases.
Hypoxia driven ocular angiogenesis occurs in a range of ischemic retinopathies including proliferative diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity. These conditions are initiated and sustained by hypoxia dependent vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in the eye. There are two families of VEGF isoforms formed by differential splicing, the pro-angiogenic VEGF family, known to contribute to ocular neovascularization, and the anti-angiogenic VEGF family, which are downregulated in diabetic retinopathy in humans. The first member of the VEGF family to be isolated was VEGF165b. To determine whether VEGF165b could inhibit hypoxia driven angiogenesis in the eye, the oxygen induced retinopathy mouse model of ocular neovascularization was used.
1 ng of recombinant human VEGF165b peptide was injected intraocularly upon return to normoxia after 5 days exposure to 95% oxygen, and neovascularization assessed.
VEGF165b significantly inhibited the percentage area of retinal neovascularization from 23+/-3% to 12+/-3.3%, and significantly increased normal vascular areas from 62+/-4% to 74+/-4%. The percentage area of residual ischemic retina was not affected.
These results show that a single injection of VEGF165b can significantly reduce preretinal neovascularization without inhibition of physiological intraretinal angiogenesis. Controlling the balance of VEGF(xxx) to VEGF(xxx) isoforms may therefore be therapeutically valuable in the treatment of proliferative eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration. The regulation of splicing between these two families of isoforms may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for proliferative eye disease.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is produced by several cell types in the kidney, and its expression is tightly regulated for the maintenance of normal renal physiology. Increases or decreases in its expression are associated with proteinuria and renal disease. Recently, we found that the expression of VEGF is markedly induced following interactions between CD40 ligand (CD40L) and CD40. Here, endothelial cells (EC) or Jurkat T cell lines were transiently transfected with luciferase reporter constructs under the control of the human VEGF promoter and were treated with human soluble CD40L (sCD40L). We identified a CD40-responsive 68-bp region (bp -50 to +18) of the promoter and 43 bp within this region (bp -25 to +18) that have 97% homology to a sequence of CpG dinucleotides. A computerized search revealed that the CpG region has putative binding domains for the transcriptional repressor protein methyl CpG binding protein-2 (MeCP2). In EMSA, we found that the 43-bp methylated sequence formed four complex(es) with nuclear extracts from untreated EC and reduced binding of at least one complex when nuclear lysates from sCD40L-activated EC (30 min) were used. Supershift analysis using anti-MeCP2 demonstrated that most of the complex(es) in both untreated and sCD40L-activated EC involved interactions between the 43-bp DNA and MeCP2. In addition, we found that other CpG binding proteins may also interact with this region of the promoter. Taken together, this is the first demonstration that CpG binding transcriptional repressor proteins including MeCP2 may be of importance in VEGF biology.
Although our understanding of the molecular regulation of adult neovascularization has advanced tremendously, vascular-targeted therapies for tissue ischemia remain suboptimal. The master regulatory transcription factors of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) family are attractive therapeutic targets because they coordinately up-regulate multiple genes controlling neovascularization. Here, we used an inducible model of epithelial HIF-1 activation, the TetON-HIF-1 mouse, to test the requirement for VEGF in HIF-1 mediated neovascularization. TetON-HIF-1, K14-Cre, and VEGF(flox/flox) alleles were combined to create TetON-HIF-1:VEGF(Δ) mice to activate HIF-1 and its target genes in adult basal keratinocytes in the absence of concomitant VEGF. HIF-1 induction failed to produce neovascularization in TetON-HIF-1:VEGF(Δ) mice despite robust up-regulation of multiple proangiogenic HIF targets, including PlGF, adrenomedullin, angiogenin, and PAI-1. In contrast, endothelial sprouting was preserved, enhanced, and more persistent, consistent with marked reduction in Dll4-Notch-1 signaling. Optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy, which provides noninvasive, label-free, high resolution, and wide-field vascular imaging, revealed the absence of both capillary expansion and arteriovenous remodeling in serially imaged individual TetON-HIF-1:VEGF(Δ) mice. Impaired TetON-HIF-1:VEGF(Δ) neovascularization could be partially rescued by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate skin treatment. These data suggest that therapeutic angiogenesis for ischemic cardiovascular disease may require treatment with both HIF-1 and VEGF.
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has received particular attention in the pathogenesis of cervical cancer, although the underlying mechanism remains elusive. This study revealed that IL-6 promotes in vivo tumor growth of human cervical cancer C33A cells, but does not substantially alter their in vitro growth kinetics. The in vivo angiogenic assays showed that IL-6 increases angiogenic activity in human cervical cancer cells, an effect that is specifically associated with upregulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Also, using anti-VEGF antibody to block VEGF function significantly inhibited IL-6-mediated angiogenesis and tumor growth in nude mice, strongly supporting the critical role of VEGF in the IL-6-mediated cervical tumorigenesis. Accordingly, the signaling pathway downstream of IL-6/IL-6R responsible for the regulation of VEGF was investigated. Notably, pharmacological inhibition of PI3-K or MAPK failed to inhibit IL-6-mediated transcriptional upregulation of VEGF. Meanwhile, blocking STAT3 pathway with dominant-negative mutant STAT3D effectively abolished IL-6-induced VEGF mRNA. In transient transfections, a luciferase reporter construct containing the full-length 1.5-kb VEGF promoter or a 1.2-kb fragment lacking the known hypoxic-response element also exhibited the same degree of response to IL-6. Additionally, transient transfection of STAT3D downregulated the 1.2-kb VEGF promoter luciferase reporter stimulated by IL-6. Based on the above phenomenon combined with the concomitant increased tumor expression of IL-6 and VEGF in cervical cancer tissues, we conclude that IL-6 may promote cervical tumorigenesis by activating VEGF-mediated angiogenesis via a STAT3 pathway.