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Metastatic clear-cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) affects thousands of patients worldwide each year. Antiangiogenic therapy has been shown to have beneficial effects initially, but resistance is eventually developed. Therefore, it is important to accurately track the response of cancer to different therapeutics in order to appropriately adjust the therapy to maximize efficacy. Change in tumor volume is the current gold standard for determining efficacy of treatment. However, functional variations can occur much earlier than measurable volume changes. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) is an important tool for assessing tumor progression and response to therapy, since it can monitor functional changes in the physiology. In this study, we demonstrate how ultrasound molecular imaging (USMI) can accurately track the evolution of the disease and molecular response to treatment. A cohort of NSG (NOD/scid/gamma) mice was injected with ccRCC cells and treated with either the VEGF inhibitor SU (Sunitinib malate, Selleckchem, TX, USA) or the Notch pathway inhibitor GSI (Gamma secretase inhibitor, PF-03084014, Pfizer, New York, NY, USA), or started on SU and later switched to GSI (Switch group). The therapies used in the study focus on disrupting angiogenesis and proper vessel development. SU inhibits signaling of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is responsible for the sprouting of new vasculature, and GSI inhibits the Notch pathway, which is a key factor in the correct maturation of newly formed vasculature. Microbubble contrast agents targeted to VEGFR-2 (VEGF Receptor) were delivered as a bolus, and the bound agents were imaged in 3D after the free-flowing contrast was cleared from the body. Additionally, the tumors were harvested at the end of the study and stained for CD31. The results show that MI can detect changes in VEGFR-2 expression in the group treated with SU within a week of the start of treatment, while differences in volume only become apparent after the mice have been treated for three weeks. Furthermore, USMI can detect response to therapy in 92% of cases after 1 week of treatment, while the detection rate is only 40% for volume measurements. The amount of targeting for the GSI and Control groups was high throughout the duration of the study, while that of the SU and Switch groups remained low. However, the amount of targeting in the Switch group increased to levels similar to those of the Control group after the treatment was switched to GSI. CD31 staining indicates significantly lower levels of patent vasculature for the SU group compared to the Control and GSI groups. Therefore, the results parallel the expected physiological changes in the tumor, since GSI promotes angiogenesis through the VEGF pathway, while SU inhibits it. This study demonstrates that MI can track disease progression and assess functional changes in tumors before changes in volume are apparent, and thus, CEUS can be a valuable tool for assessing response to therapy in disease. Future work is required to determine whether levels of VEGFR-2 targeting correlate with eventual survival outcomes.
In preterm infants, soluble inflammatory mediators target lung mesenchymal cells, disrupting airway and alveolar morphogenesis. However, how mesenchymal cells respond directly to microbial stimuli remains poorly characterized. Our objective was to measure the genome-wide innate immune response in fetal lung mesenchymal cells exposed to the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS). With the use of Affymetrix MoGene 1.0st arrays, we showed that LPS induced expression of unique innate immune transcripts heavily weighted toward CC and CXC family chemokines. The transcriptional response was different between cells from E11, E15, and E18 mouse lungs. In all cells tested, LPS inhibited expression of a small core group of genes including the VEGF receptor Although best characterized in vascular endothelial populations, we demonstrated here that fetal mouse lung mesenchymal cells express and respond to VEGF-A stimulation. In mesenchymal cells, VEGF-A increased cell migration, activated the ERK/AKT pathway, and promoted FOXO3A nuclear exclusion. With the use of an experimental coculture model of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, we also showed that VEGFR2 inhibition prevented formation of three-dimensional structures. Both LPS and tyrosine kinase inhibition reduced three-dimensional structure formation. Our data suggest a novel mechanism for inflammation-mediated defects in lung development involving reduced VEGF signaling in lung mesenchyme.
Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), despite their efficacy as anticancer therapeutics, are associated with cardiovascular side effects ranging from induced arrhythmias to heart failure. We used human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs), generated from 11 healthy individuals and 2 patients receiving cancer treatment, to screen U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved TKIs for cardiotoxicities by measuring alterations in cardiomyocyte viability, contractility, electrophysiology, calcium handling, and signaling. With these data, we generated a "cardiac safety index" to reflect the cardiotoxicities of existing TKIs. TKIs with low cardiac safety indices exhibit cardiotoxicity in patients. We also derived endothelial cells (hiPSC-ECs) and cardiac fibroblasts (hiPSC-CFs) to examine cell type-specific cardiotoxicities. Using high-throughput screening, we determined that vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2)/platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR)-inhibiting TKIs caused cardiotoxicity in hiPSC-CMs, hiPSC-ECs, and hiPSC-CFs. With phosphoprotein analysis, we determined that VEGFR2/PDGFR-inhibiting TKIs led to a compensatory increase in cardioprotective insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling in hiPSC-CMs. Up-regulating cardioprotective signaling with exogenous insulin or IGF1 improved hiPSC-CM viability during cotreatment with cardiotoxic VEGFR2/PDGFR-inhibiting TKIs. Thus, hiPSC-CMs can be used to screen for cardiovascular toxicities associated with anticancer TKIs, and the results correlate with clinical phenotypes. This approach provides unexpected insights, as illustrated by our finding that toxicity can be alleviated via cardioprotective insulin/IGF signaling.
Copyright © 2017, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Impaired angiogenesis has been implicated in adipose tissue dysfunction and the development of obesity and associated metabolic disorders. Here, we report the unexpected finding that vascular endothelial growth factor B (VEGFB) gene transduction into mice inhibits obesity-associated inflammation and improves metabolic health without changes in body weight or ectopic lipid deposition. Mechanistically, the binding of VEGFB to VEGF receptor 1 (VEGFR1, also known as Flt1) activated the VEGF/VEGFR2 pathway and increased capillary density, tissue perfusion, and insulin supply, signaling, and function in adipose tissue. Furthermore, endothelial Flt1 gene deletion enhanced the effect of VEGFB, activating the thermogenic program in subcutaneous adipose tissue, which increased the basal metabolic rate, thus preventing diet-induced obesity and related metabolic complications. In obese and insulin-resistant mice, Vegfb gene transfer, together with endothelial Flt1 gene deletion, induced weight loss and mitigated the metabolic complications, demonstrating the therapeutic potential of the VEGFB/VEGFR1 pathway.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
RATIONALE - Myocardial infarction causes irreversible tissue damage, leading to heart failure. We recently discovered that canonical Wnt signaling and the Wnt10b ligand are strongly induced in mouse hearts after infarction. Wnt10b regulates cell fate in various organs, but its role in the heart is unknown.
OBJECTIVE - To investigate the effect of Wnt10b gain-of-function on cardiac repair mechanisms and to assess its potential to improve ventricular function after injury.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Histological and molecular analyses showed that Wnt10b is expressed in cardiomyocytes and localized in the intercalated discs of mouse and human hearts. After coronary artery ligation or cryoinjury in mice, Wnt10b is strongly and transiently induced in peri-infarct cardiomyocytes during granulation tissue formation. To determine the effect of Wnt10b on neovascularization and fibrosis, we generated a mouse line to increase endogenous Wnt10b levels in cardiomyocytes. We found that gain of Wnt10b function orchestrated a recovery phenotype characterized by robust neovascularization of the injury zone, less myofibroblasts, reduced scar size, and improved ventricular function compared with wild-type mice. Wnt10b stimulated expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 in endothelial cells and angiopoietin-1 in vascular smooth muscle cells through nuclear factor-κB activation. These effects coordinated endothelial growth and smooth muscle cell recruitment, promoting robust formation of large, coronary-like blood vessels.
CONCLUSION - Wnt10b gain-of-function coordinates arterial formation and attenuates fibrosis in cardiac tissue after injury. Because generation of mature blood vessels is necessary for efficient perfusion, our findings could lead to novel strategies to optimize the inherent repair capacity of the heart and prevent the onset of heart failure.
© 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.
PURPOSE - VEGF receptor (VEGFR) kinases are important drug targets in oncology that affect function of systemic endothelial cells. To discover genetic markers that affect VEGFR inhibitor pharmacodynamics, we performed a genome-wide association study of serum soluble vascular VEGFR2 concentrations [sVEGFR2], a pharmacodynamic biomarker for VEGFR2 inhibitors.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN - We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of [sVEGFR2] in 736 healthy Old Order Amish volunteers. Gene variants identified from the GWAS were genotyped serially in a cohort of 128 patients with advanced solid tumor with baseline [sVEGFR2] measurements, and in 121 patients with renal carcinoma with [sVEGFR2] measured before and during pazopanib therapy.
RESULTS - rs34231037 (C482R) in KDR, the gene encoding sVEGFR2 was found to be highly associated with [sVEGFR2], explaining 23% of the variance (P = 2.7 × 10(-37)). Association of rs34231037 with [sVEGFR2] was replicated in 128 patients with cancer with comparable effect size (P = 0.025). Furthermore, rs34231037 was a significant predictor of changes in [sVEGFR2] in response to pazopanib (P = 0.01).
CONCLUSION - Our findings suggest that genome-wide analysis of phenotypes in healthy populations can expedite identification of candidate pharmacogenetic markers. Genotyping for germline variants in KDR may have clinical utility in identifying patients with cancer with unusual sensitivity to effects of VEGFR2 kinase inhibitors.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.
Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) deficiency may contribute to the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy in both experimental models and humans, but the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. Here, we studied two common sequelae of endothelial dysfunction in diabetes: glomerular capillary growth and effects on neighboring podocytes. Streptozotocin-induced diabetes increased glomerular capillary volume in both C57BL/6 and eNOS(-/-) mice. Inhibiting the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor attenuated albuminuria in diabetic C57BL/6 mice but not in diabetic eNOS(-/-) mice, even though it inhibited glomerular capillary enlargement in both. In eNOS(-/-) mice, an acute podocytopathy and heavy albuminuria occurred as early as 2 weeks after inducing diabetes, but treatment with either captopril or losartan prevented these effects. In vitro, serum derived from diabetic eNOS(-/-) mice augmented actin filament rearrangement in cultured podocytes. Furthermore, conditioned medium derived from eNOS(-/-) glomerular endothelial cells exposed to both high glucose and angiotensin II activated podocyte RhoA. Taken together, these results suggest that the combined effects of eNOS deficiency and hyperglycemia contribute to podocyte injury, highlighting the importance of communication between endothelial cells and podocytes in diabetes. Identifying mediators of this communication may lead to the future development of therapies targeting endothelial dysfunction in albuminuric individuals with diabetes.
OBJECTIVE - Several bone marrow-derived cell populations have been identified that may possess angiogenic activity and contribute to vascular homeostasis in experimental studies. We examined the extent to which lower quantities of these circulating angiogenic cell phenotypes may be related to impaired vascular function and greater arterial stiffness.
METHODS - We studied 1948 Framingham Heart Study participants (mean age, 66±9 years; 54% women) who were phenotyped for circulating angiogenic cells: CD34+, CD34+/KDR+, and early outgrowth colony forming units (CFU). Participants underwent non-invasive assessments of vascular function including peripheral arterial tone (PAT), arterial tonometry, and brachial reactivity testing.
RESULTS - In unadjusted analyses, higher CD34+ and CD34+/KDR+ concentrations were modestly associated with lower PAT ratio (β=-0.052±0.011, P<0.001 and β=-0.030±0.011, P=0.008, respectively) and with higher carotid-brachial pulse wave velocity (β=0.144±0.043, P=0.001 and β=0.112±0.043, P=0.009), but not with flow-mediated dilation; higher CD34+ was also associated with lower carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (β=-0.229±0.094, P=0.015). However, only the association of lower CD34+ concentration with higher PAT ratio persisted in multivariable analyses that adjusted for standard cardiovascular risk factors. In all analyses, CFU was not associated with measures of vascular function or arterial stiffness.
CONCLUSIONS - In our large, community-based sample of men and women, circulating angiogenic cell phenotypes largely were not associated with measures of vascular function or arterial stiffness in analyses adjusting for traditional risk factors.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Tumor-associated myeloid cells are believed to promote tumor development by stimulating tumor growth, angiogenesis, invasion, and metastasis. Tumor-associated myeloid cells that coexpress endothelial and myeloid markers represent a proangiogenic subpopulation known as vascular leukocytes. Recently, we and others had shown that tumor-derived TNFα promotes local tumor growth and vascularity. Our data suggested that tumor growth is in part due to TNFα-mediated increased numbers of tumor-associated vascular leukocytes (i.e., myeloid-endothelial biphenotypic cells). The work detailed herein explored the mechanism by which TNFα mediates endothelial differentiation of myeloid cells. Our studies showed that fibronectin is a robust facilitator of endothelial differentiation of blood mononuclear cells in vitro. We have found that TNFα treatment of monocytes significantly increased expression of α(5)β(1) integrin, a major fibronectin receptor enriched on endothelial cells, leading to a consequent fourfold increase in fibronectin adhesion. Furthermore, TNFα-treated monocytes upregulated expression of endothelial markers, flk-1(VEGFR2/KDR) and VE-cadherin. Integrin α(5) subunit inhibitory antibodies blocked adhesion to fibronectin as well as consequent upregulation of flk-1 and VE-cadherin transcripts, implying a role for outside-in signaling by the α(5)β(1) integrin after binding fibronectin. Finally, treatment of mouse tumors with anti-α(5) antibodies reduced accumulation of tumor vascular leukocytes in vivo. Our studies suggest that tumor cell-derived TNFα constitutes a tumor microenvironment signal that promotes differentiation of tumor-associated monocytes toward a proangiogenic/provasculogenic myeloid-endothelial phenotype via upregulation of the fibronectin receptor α(5)β(1).
INTRODUCTION - Targeting of cancer by chemotherapy in combination with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy has demonstrated not only the clinical efficacy but also a higher risk of serious hematologic complications including neutropenia. The purpose of the study was to elucidate the molecular mechanisms responsible for the development of neutropenia during the combination treatment.
METHODS - Mouse model and in vitro studies were undertaken to determine the effect of interference with VEGF signaling by VEGF-specific agents or a multitargeted VEGF receptor (VEGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor on proliferation of hematopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) and repopulation of the hematopoietic compartment after myeloablation.
RESULTS - The studies demonstrated that blockage of VEGFR1 or VEGFR2 signaling decreased HPC proliferation and impaired repopulation of the hematopoietic compartment after myelosuppression by slowing the progression of HPC through the cell cycle. The combination of cytotoxic drugs and VEGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor had an additive inhibitory effect and decreased proliferation of HPC significantly stronger than either agent alone.
CONCLUSIONS - Signaling through both VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 is required for normal reconstitution of the hematopoietic compartment after cytotoxic chemotherapy.