Article

HIV-1 Tat mimetic of VEGF correlates with increased microvessels density in AIDS-related diffuse large B-cell and Burkitt lymphomas

Department of Human Pathology and Oncology, University of Siena, Via Delle Scotte 6, 53100, Siena, Italy.
Journal of Hematopathology 08/2008; 1(1):3-10. DOI: 10.1007/s12308-008-0002-z
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Angiogenic switch marks the beginning of tumor's strategy to acquire independent blood supply. In some subtypes of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, higher local vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression correlates with increased microvessel density. However, this local VEGF expression is higher only in tumors with elevated expression of the receptors of the growth factor, suggesting an autocrine growth-promoting feedback loop. Several studies have indicated that VEGF receptors are also targeted by Tat protein from the HIV-1-infected cells. Given the similarity of the basic region of Tat to the angiogenic factors (basic fibroblast growth factor, VEGF), Tat mimics these proteins and binds to their receptors. We evaluated the role of HIV-1 Tat in regulating the level of VEGF expression and microvessel density in the AIDS-related diffuse large B-cell (DLBCL) and Burkitt lymphomas (BL). By luciferase assay, we showed that VEGF promoter activity was downregulated in vitro in cells transfected with Tat. Reduced VEGF protein expression in primary HIV-1 positive BL and DLBCL, compared to the negative cases, supported the findings of promoter downregulation from the cell lines. Microvascular density assessed by CD34 expression was, however, higher in HIV-1 positive than in HIV-1 negative tumors. These results suggest that Tat has a wider angiogenic role, besides the regulation of VEGF expression. Thus, targeting Tat protein itself and stabilizing transient silencing of VEGF expression or use of monoclonal antibodies against their receptors in the AIDS-associated tumors will open a window for future explorable pathways in the management of angiogenic phenotypes in the AIDS-associated non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.

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