VEGF-C promotes immune tolerance in B16 melanomas and cross-presentation of tumor antigen by lymph node lymphatics.
ABSTRACT Tumor expression of the lymphangiogenic factor VEGF-C is correlated with metastasis and poor prognosis, and although VEGF-C enhances transport to the draining lymph node (dLN) and antigen exposure to the adaptive immune system, its role in tumor immunity remains unexplored. Here, we demonstrate that VEGF-C promotes immune tolerance in murine melanoma. In B16 F10 melanomas expressing a foreign antigen (OVA), VEGF-C protected tumors against preexisting antitumor immunity and promoted local deletion of OVA-specific CD8(+) T cells. Naive OVA-specific CD8(+) T cells, transferred into tumor-bearing mice, were dysfunctionally activated and apoptotic. Lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) in dLNs cross-presented OVA, and naive LECs scavenge and cross-present OVA in vitro. Cross-presenting LECs drove the proliferation and apoptosis of OVA-specific CD8(+) T cells ex vivo. Our findings introduce a tumor-promoting role for lymphatics in the tumor and dLN and suggest that lymphatic endothelium in the local microenvironment may be a target for immunomodulation.
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ABSTRACT: Lymphangiogenesis is a highly regulated process involved in the pathogenesis of disease. Current in vivo models to assess lymphangiogenesis are largely unphysiologic. The zebrafish is a powerful model system for studying development, due to its rapid growth and transparency during early stages of life. Identification of a network of trunk lymphatic capillaries in zebrafish provides an opportunity to quantify lymphatic growth in vivo. Late-phase microangiography was used to detect trunk lymphatic capillaries in zebrafish 2- and 3-days post-fertilization. Using this approach, real-time changes in lymphatic capillary development were measured in response to modulators of lymphangiogenesis. Recombinant human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C added directly to the zebrafish aqueous environment as well as human endothelial and mouse melanoma cell transplantation resulted in increased lymphatic capillary growth, while morpholino-based knockdown of vegfc and chemical inhibitors of lymphangiogenesis added to the aqueous environment resulted in decreased lymphatic capillary growth. Lymphatic capillaries in embryonic and larval zebrafish can be quantified using late-phase microangiography. Human activators and small molecule inhibitors of lymphangiogenesis, as well as transplanted human endothelial and mouse melanoma cells, alter lymphatic capillary development in zebrafish. The ability to rapidly quantify changes in lymphatic growth under physiologic conditions will allow for broad screening of lymphangiogenesis modulators, as well as help define cellular roles and elucidate pathways of lymphatic development.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e45240. · 4.09 Impact Factor