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.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) participate in the repair/remodelling of many tissues, where MSCs commit to different lineages dependent on the cues in the local microenvironment. Here we show that TGFβ-activated RhoA/ROCK signalling functions as a molecular switch regarding the fate of MSCs in arterial repair/remodelling after injury. MSCs differentiate into myofibroblasts when RhoA/ROCK is turned on, endothelial cells when turned off. The former is pathophysiologic resulting in intimal hyperplasia, whereas the latter is physiological leading to endothelial repair. Further analysis revealed that MSC RhoA activation promotes formation of an extracellular matrix (ECM) complex consisting of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Inactivation of RhoA/ROCK in MSCs induces matrix metalloproteinase-3-mediated CTGF cleavage, resulting in VEGF release and MSC endothelial differentiation. Our findings uncover a novel mechanism by which cell-ECM interactions determine stem cell lineage specificity and offer additional molecular targets to manipulate MSC-involved tissue repair/regeneration.