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Activation of the insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF-IR) was recently shown to modulate angiogenesis by up-regulating the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). We hypothesized that inhibiting IGF-IR function would inhibit angiogenesis and growth of pancreatic cancer in vivo and sought to identify major signaling pathways regulated by IGF-IR in pancreatic cancer cells. Human pancreatic cancer cells (L3.6pl) were stably transfected with a dominant-negative form of IGF-IR (IGF-IR DN) or an empty vector (pcDNA). In vitro, IGF-IR DN cells exhibited a decrease in both constitutive and inducible phosphorylation of IGF-IR and Erk1/2. Constitutive expression of nuclear hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha and secreted VEGF (P < 0.01) protein levels also were significantly lower in IGF-IR DN cells than in pcDNA cells. In vivo, IGF-IR inhibition led to decreases in pancreatic tumor volume and weight, vessel density, and tumor cell proliferation (P < 0.01 for all) and increases in tumor cell apoptosis (P < 0.02). Our results suggest that autocrine activation of the IGF-IR system significantly affects VEGF expression and angiogenesis in human pancreatic cancer. Thus, IGF-IR may be a valid target in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
The hypoxia-inducible factors 1alpha (HIF-1alpha) and 2alpha (HIF-2alpha) have extensive structural homology and have been identified as key transcription factors responsible for gene expression in response to hypoxia. They play critical roles not only in normal development, but also in tumor progression. Here we report on the differential regulation of protein expression and transcriptional activity of HIF-1alpha and -2alpha by hypoxia in immortalized mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs). We show that oxygen-dependent protein degradation is restricted to HIF-1alpha, as HIF-2alpha protein is detected in MEFs regardless of oxygenation and is localized primarily to the cytoplasm. Endogenous HIF-2alpha remained transcriptionally inactive under hypoxic conditions; however, ectopically overexpressed HIF-2alpha translocated into the nucleus and could stimulate expression of hypoxia-inducible genes. We show that the factor inhibiting HIF-1 can selectively inhibit the transcriptional activity of HIF-1alpha but has no effect on HIF-2alpha-mediated transcription in MEFs. We propose that HIF-2alpha is not a redundant transcription factor of HIF-1alpha for hypoxia-induced gene expression and show evidence that there is a cell type-specific modulator(s) that enables selective activation of HIF-1alpha but not HIF-2alpha in response to low-oxygen stress.
Endometriosis is a disease in which the lining of the uterus (endometrium), shed at the time of menstruation, becomes established at sites such as the peritoneum and ovaries. These explants develop a rich blood supply that enables them to survive and grow. We hypothesized that inhibitors of angiogenesis would prevent this growth by disrupting sensitive vessels supplying endometriotic lesions. Vessels sensitive to angiogenic antagonism have few associations with pericyte cells. The vessels supplying human endometriotic lesions were immunohistochemically characterized and found to be predominantly pericyte free. A model in which human endometrium is implanted into nude mice was used to test the effects of two antagonists of the angiogenic growth factor, vascular endothelial cell growth factor A. Soluble truncated receptor (flt-1; P = 0.002) and an affinity-purified antibody to human vascular endothelial cell growth factor A (P = 0.03) significantly inhibited the growth of nude mouse explants. Pericyte-free vessels were shown to supply endometrial lesions in nude mice and were disrupted in lesions taken from soluble flt-1-treated mice. In summary, antiangiogenic agents inhibited the growth of explants in an in vivo model of endometriosis by disrupting the vascular supply, and this effect is likely to apply to the human disease. These findings suggest that antiangiogenic agents may provide a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of endometriosis.
PURPOSE - Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent mitogen for micro- and macrovascular endothelial cells (ECs). Evidence points to a possible role for two mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, the extracellular-signal responsive kinases (ERK)-1 and -2, in VEGF signaling in ECs. This study was undertaken to begin to define the precise role of MAP kinases in VEGF signal transduction related to angiogenesis.
METHODS - Bovine retinal microvascular endothelial cells (BRMECs) and a well-established rat model of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) were used to investigate the role of ERK-1/2 in EC proliferation and tube formation and in retinal angiogenesis in vivo.
RESULTS - Administration of VEGF to BRMEC cultures increased ERK-1/2 phosphorylation, cell proliferation, and tube formation in a dose-dependent manner. Phosphorylation of retinal ERK-1/2 also was increased in the ROP model. An inhibitor of ERK, AG126, and an inhibitor of ERK kinase (MEK), PD98059, exhibited a dose-dependent reduction of ERK phosphorylation and EC proliferation, but not tube formation, in VEGF-stimulated BRMECs. In the ROP model, intravitreous injection of 10 micro M AG126 or PD98059 reduced the retinal neovascular area by 71% and 48%, respectfully. No effect was seen on intraretinal blood vessel growth.
CONCLUSIONS - These experiments point to a critical role for ERK and MEK in proliferation of ECs, but not in tube formation. Furthermore, inhibition of either of these two signal intermediates can significantly retard retinal neovascularization. This suggests that the MAPK pathway may provide rational targets for therapeutic intervention in ocular and other diseases with an angiogenic component.
Granulocytes and monocytes/macrophages of the myeloid lineage are the chief cellular agents of innate immunity. Here, we have examined the inflammatory response in mice with conditional knockouts of the hypoxia responsive transcription factor HIF-1alpha, its negative regulator VHL, and a known downstream target, VEGF. We find that activation of HIF-1alpha is essential for myeloid cell infiltration and activation in vivo through a mechanism independent of VEGF. Loss of VHL leads to a large increase in acute inflammatory responses. Our results show that HIF-1alpha is essential for the regulation of glycolytic capacity in myeloid cells: when HIF-1alpha is absent, the cellular ATP pool is drastically reduced. The metabolic defect results in profound impairment of myeloid cell aggregation, motility, invasiveness, and bacterial killing. This role for HIF-1alpha demonstrates its direct regulation of survival and function in the inflammatory microenvironment.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) pathway plays a pivotal role in the progression of human gastric cancer. The angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been shown to be induced by EGF in various cancer cell lines. Neuropilin-1 (NRP-1) acts as a coreceptor for VEGF-165 and increases its affinity for VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) in endothelial cells. Furthermore, NRP-1 has been found to be expressed by tumour cells and has been shown to enhance tumour angiogenesis and growth in preclinical models. We examined the expression of NRP-1 mRNA and EGF-R protein in seven human gastric cancer cell lines. NRP-1 expression was expressed in five of seven cell lines, and EGF-R expression closely mirrored NRP-1 expression. Moreover, in EGF-R-positive NCI-N87 and ST-2 cells, EGF induced both NRP-1 and VEGF mRNA expression. C225, a monoclonal antibody to EGF-R, blocked EGF-induced NRP-1 and VEGF expression in NCI-N87 cells in a dose-dependent manner. The treatment of NCI-N87 cells with EGF resulted in increases in phosphorylation of Erk1/2, Akt, and P38. Blockade of the Erk, phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase/Akt, or P38 pathways in this cell line prevented EGF induction of NRP-1 and VEGF. These results suggest that regulation of NRP-1 expression in human gastric cancer is intimately associated with the EGF/EGF-R system. Activation of EGF-R might contribute to gastric cancer angiogenesis by a mechanism that involves upregulation of VEGF and NRP-1 expression via multiple signalling pathways.
A significant body of research has implicated the process of angiogenesis in the growth and spread of tumors. Elucidation of the mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis has led to the development of multiple anti-angiogenic agents. However, the perceived differences between the results of preclinical studies and those of early phases of clinical trials have led to questions being asked regarding the efficacy of these agents. There are many reasons for this discrepancy, including difficulties in the appropriate interpretation of preclinical data and clinical trial design. Further insights into the complex process of angiogenesis are essential for the development of effective anti-angiogenic regimens.
Chronic mountain sickness (CMS), a maladaptation syndrome to chronic hypoxia, occurs in the Andes. Gene expression differences in Andeans could explain adaptation and maladaptation to hypoxia, both of which are relevant to neurology at sea level. Expression of genes responsive to cellular oxygen concentration, hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha), three splicing variants of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and von Hippel-Lindau protein (pVHL) was measured by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in 12 Cerro de Pasco (CP) (altitude 4338 m) natives and 15 CMS patients in CP. Thirteen high altitude natives living in Lima and five Lima natives were sea level controls. A CMS score (CMS-sc) was assigned clinically. Expression was related to the clinical assessment. High expression of HIF-1alpha and VEGF-121 was found in CMS (P<0.001). Samples from CP had higher expression than those from Lima (P<0.001). Expression of HIF-1alpha and VEGF-121 was related to age (P<0.001); adjusting for age did not abolish the group effect. Higher CMS-sc was related to expression independent of age (P<0.001). VEGF-165 and -189 were expressed only in CMS. Birth altitude had no effect on gene expression. pVHL was not quantifiable.HIF-1alpha and VEGF-121 participate in adaptation to hypoxia. The high levels may explain blood vessel proliferation in Andeans and hold lessons for patients at sea level. VEGF-165 expression suggests that it contributes to preservation of neuronal function in human chronic hypoxia. VHL mutations may mark those destined to develop neural crest tumors which are common in the Andes.
Adenosine is released during tissue injury, ischemia and tumor growth, and promotes angiogenesis. Because mast cells accumulate in the proximity of new blood vessel development, we examined if they may contribute to adenosine-induced angiogenesis. We found that HMC-1 human mast cells express A2A, A2B, and A3 adenosine receptors. The adenosine agonist NECA (100 micromol/L) increased interleukin-8 (IL-8), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and angiopoietin-2 mRNA expression. NECA-induced secretion of IL-8 and VEGF was verified by ELISA. A2B receptors mediate VEGF and IL-8 secretion because neither CGS21680 (selective A2A agonist) nor IB-MECA (selective A3 agonist) produced this effect, and it was inhibited by the selective A2B antagonist IPDX but not by the selective A2A antagonist SCH58261 or the selective A3 antagonist MRS1191. In contrast, the selective A3 agonist IB-MECA (EC50 1 nmol/L) stimulated angiopoietin-2 expression. Conditioned media from NECA-activated HMC-1 stimulated human umbilical vein endothelial cell proliferation and migration, and induced capillary tube formation. Capillary formation induced by mast cell-conditioned media was maximal if both HMC-1 A2B and A3 receptors were activated, whereas activation of A2B receptor alone was less effective. Thus, adenosine A2B and A3 receptors act in a functional cooperative fashion to promote angiogenesis by a paracrine mechanism involving the differential expression and secretion of angiogenic factors from human mast cells.
The realization that the growth and spread of tumors are dependent on angiogenesis has created new avenues of research designed to help us to better understand cancer biology and to facilitate the development of new therapeutic strategies. However, the process of angiogenesis consists of multiple, sequential, and interdependent steps with a myriad of positive and negative regulators of angiogenesis being involved. The survival of tumors and thus their metastases are dependent upon the balance of endogenous angiogenic and anti-angiogenic factors such that the outcome favors increased angiogenesis. Several growth factors have been identified that regulate angiogenesis in cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. These include pro-angiogenic factors like vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and anti-angiogenic factors, i.e., thrombospondin. The following review provides a brief overview about the most important factors that are involved in the angiogenic process in tumors derived from colon, stomach, and pancreas. A thorough understanding of the role these factors play in the angiogenic process may lead to the development of novel therapeutic antineoplastic strategies.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.