[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RATIONALE:
Lymphatic vessels in the respiratory tract normally mature into a functional network during the neonatal period, but under some pathological conditions can grow as enlarged, dilated sacs that result in the potentially lethal condition of pulmonary lymphangiectasia.
We sought to determine whether overexpression of the lymphangiogenic growth factor VEGF-C can promote lymphatic growth and maturation in the respiratory tract. Unexpectedly, perinatal overexpression of VEGF-C in the respiratory epithelium led to a condition resembling human pulmonary lymphangiectasia, a life-threatening disorder of the newborn characterized by respiratory distress and the presence of widely dilated lymphatics.
METHODS AND RESULTS:
Administration of doxycycline to CCSP-rtTA/tetO-VEGF-C double transgenic mice during a critical period from E15.5 to P14 was accompanied by respiratory distress, chylothorax, pulmonary lymphangiectasia, and high mortality. Enlarged sac-like lymphatics were abundant near major airways, pulmonary vessels, and visceral pleura. Side-by-side comparison revealed morphologic features similar to pulmonary lymphangiectasia in humans. The condition was milder in mice given doxycycline after age P14 and did not develop after P35. Mechanistic studies revealed that VEGFR-3 alone drove lymphatic growth in adult mice, but both VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 were required for the development of lymphangiectasia in neonates. VEGFR-2/VEGFR-3 heterodimers were more abundant in the dilated lymphatics, consistent with the involvement of both receptors. Despite the dependence of lymphangiectasia on VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3, the condition was not reversed by blocking both receptors together or by withdrawing VEGF-C.
The findings indicate that VEGF-C overexpression can induce pulmonary lymphangiectasia during a critical period in perinatal development.
Circulation Research 01/2014; · 11.86 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For many types of human cancer, the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) correlates with enhanced tumor-associated lymphatic vessel density, metastasis formation and poor prognosis. In experimental animals, VEGF-C produced by primary tumors can induce lymphangiogenesis within and/or at the periphery of the tumor, and promotes metastasis formation. Tumor-induced lymphangiogenesis is therefore thought to expedite entry of tumor cells into the lymphatic vasculature and their trafficking to regional lymph nodes, thereby fostering metastatic dissemination. Tumour-produced VEGF-C can also drain to the regional lymph nodes and induce lymphangiogenesis there. Whether this activity promotes metastasis formation remains unclear. To address this issue we manipulated VEGF-C activity and VEGFR-3 activation in the lymph nodes draining syngeneic rat breast cancers using intra-dermal delivery of either recombinant VEGF-C or VEGFR-3 blocking antibodies to induce or suppress lymph node lymphangiogenesis, respectively. Recombinant VEGF-C induced lymph node lymphangiogenesis, but was not sufficient to promote metastasis formation by poorly metastatic NM-081 breast tumours. Conversely, inhibition of lymph node lymphangiogeneis induced by highly metastatic MT-450 breast tumours suppressed the outgrowth of lymph node metastases, but not the initial colonization of the lymph nodes. Lung metastasis was also not affected. We conclude that tumor-derived VEGF-C draining to regional lymph nodes promotes the outgrowth of lymph node metastases. VEGF-C may induce lung metastasis independently of its effects on lymph node metastasis.
Clinical and Experimental Metastasis 12/2013; · 3.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Developing tissues and growing tumours produce vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs), leading to the activation of the corresponding receptors in endothelial cells. The resultant angiogenic expansion of the local vasculature can promote physiological and pathological growth processes. Previous work has uncovered that the VEGF and Notch pathways are tightly linked. Signalling triggered by VEGF-A (also known as VEGF) has been shown to induce expression of the Notch ligand DLL4 in angiogenic vessels and, most prominently, in the tip of endothelial sprouts. DLL4 activates Notch in adjacent cells, which suppresses the expression of VEGF receptors and thereby restrains endothelial sprouting and proliferation. Here we show, by using inducible loss-of-function genetics in combination with inhibitors in vivo, that DLL4 protein expression in retinal tip cells is only weakly modulated by VEGFR2 signalling. Surprisingly, Notch inhibition also had no significant impact on VEGFR2 expression and induced deregulated endothelial sprouting and proliferation even in the absence of VEGFR2, which is the most important VEGF-A receptor and is considered to be indispensable for these processes. By contrast, VEGFR3, the main receptor for VEGF-C, was strongly modulated by Notch. VEGFR3 kinase-activity inhibitors but not ligand-blocking antibodies suppressed the sprouting of endothelial cells that had low Notch signalling activity. Our results establish that VEGFR2 and VEGFR3 are regulated in a highly differential manner by Notch. We propose that successful anti-angiogenic targeting of these receptors and their ligands will strongly depend on the status of endothelial Notch signalling.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neural stem cells (NSCs) are slowly dividing astrocytes that are intimately associated with capillary endothelial cells in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the brain. Functionally, members of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family can stimulate neurogenesis as well as angiogenesis, but it has been unclear whether they act directly via VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) expressed by neural cells, or indirectly via the release of growth factors from angiogenic capillaries. Here, we show that VEGFR-3, a receptor required for lymphangiogenesis, is expressed by NSCs and is directly required for neurogenesis. Vegfr3:YFP reporter mice show VEGFR-3 expression in multipotent NSCs, which are capable of self-renewal and are activated by the VEGFR-3 ligand VEGF-C in vitro. Overexpression of VEGF-C stimulates VEGFR-3-expressing NSCs and neurogenesis in the SVZ without affecting angiogenesis. Conversely, conditional deletion of Vegfr3 in neural cells, inducible deletion in subventricular astrocytes, and blocking of VEGFR-3 signaling with antibodies reduce SVZ neurogenesis. Therefore, VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 signaling acts directly on NSCs and regulates adult neurogenesis, opening potential approaches for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Genes & development 04/2011; 25(8):831-44. · 12.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The role of lymphangiogenesis in inflammation has remained unclear. To investigate the role of lymphatic versus blood vasculature in chronic skin inflammation, we inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor (VEGFR) signaling by function-blocking antibodies in the established keratin 14 (K14)-VEGF-A transgenic (Tg) mouse model of chronic cutaneous inflammation. Although treatment with an anti-VEGFR-2 antibody inhibited skin inflammation, epidermal hyperplasia, inflammatory infiltration, and angiogenesis, systemic inhibition of VEGFR-3, surprisingly, increased inflammatory edema formation and inflammatory cell accumulation despite inhibition of lymphangiogenesis. Importantly, chronic Tg delivery of the lymphangiogenic factor VEGF-C to the skin of K14-VEGF-A mice completely inhibited development of chronic skin inflammation, epidermal hyperplasia and abnormal differentiation, and accumulation of CD8 T cells. Similar results were found after Tg delivery of mouse VEGF-D that only activates VEGFR-3 but not VEGFR-2. Moreover, intracutaneous injection of recombinant VEGF-C156S, which only activates VEGFR-3, significantly reduced inflammation. Although lymphatic drainage was inhibited in chronic skin inflammation, it was enhanced by Tg VEGF-C delivery. Together, these results reveal an unanticipated active role of lymphatic vessels in controlling chronic inflammation. Stimulation of functional lymphangiogenesis via VEGFR-3, in addition to antiangiogenic therapy, might therefore serve as a novel strategy to treat chronic inflammatory disorders of the skin and possibly also other organs.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 09/2010; 207(10):2255-69. · 13.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The vascular endothelial growth factors VEGFA and VEGFC are crucial regulators of vascular development. They exert their effects by dimerization and activation of the cognate receptors VEGFR2 and VEGFR3. Here, we have used in situ proximity ligation to detect receptor complexes in intact endothelial cells. We show that both VEGFA and VEGFC potently induce formation of VEGFR2/-3 heterodimers. Receptor heterodimers were found in both developing blood vessels and immature lymphatic structures in embryoid bodies. We present evidence that heterodimers frequently localize to tip cell filopodia. Interestingly, in the presence of VEGFC, heterodimers were enriched in the leading tip cells as compared with trailing stalk cells of growing sprouts. Neutralization of VEGFR3 to prevent heterodimer formation in response to VEGFA decreased the extent of angiogenic sprouting. We conclude that VEGFR2/-3 heterodimers on angiogenic sprouts induced by VEGFA or VEGFC may serve to positively regulate angiogenic sprouting.
The EMBO Journal 03/2010; 29(8):1377-88. · 9.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lymphatic network and chemokine-mediated signals are essential for leukocyte traffic during the proximal steps of alloimmune response. We aimed to determine the role of lymphatic vessels and their principal growth signaling pathway, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C/D/VEGFR-3, during acute and chronic rejection in cardiac allografts.
Analysis of heterotopically transplanted rat cardiac allografts showed that chronic rejection increased VEGF-C(+) inflammatory cell and hyaluronan receptor-1 (LYVE-1)(+) lymphatic vessel density. Allograft lymphatic vessels were VEGFR-3(+), contained antigen-presenting cells, and produced dendritic cell chemokine CCL21. Experiments with VEGFR-3/LacZ mice or mice with green fluorescent protein-positive bone marrow cells as cardiac allograft recipients showed that allograft lymphatic vessels originated almost exclusively from donor cells. Intraportal adenoviral VEGFR-3-Ig (Ad.VEGFR-3-Ig/VEGF-C/D-Trap) perfusion was used to inhibit VEGF-C/D/VEGFR-3 signaling. Recipient treatment with Ad.VEGFR-3-Ig prolonged rat cardiac allograft survival. Ad.VEGFR-3-Ig did not affect allograft lymphangiogenesis but was linked to reduced CCL21 production and CD8(+) effector cell entry in the allograft. Concomitantly, Ad.VEGFR-3-Ig reduced OX62(+) dendritic cell recruitment and increased transcription factor Foxp3 expression in the spleen. In separate experiments, treatment with a neutralizing monoclonal VEGFR-3 antibody reduced arteriosclerosis, the number of activated lymphatic vessels expressing VEGFR-3 and CCL21, and graft-infiltrating CD4(+) T cells in chronically rejecting mouse cardiac allografts.
These results show that VEGFR-3 participates in immune cell traffic from peripheral tissues to secondary lymphoid organs by regulating allograft lymphatic vessel CCL21 production and suggest VEGFR-3 inhibition as a novel lymphatic vessel-targeted immunomodulatory therapy for cardiac allograft rejection and arteriosclerosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (VEGFR-1, or Flt-1) is widely expressed in normal and pathologic tissue and contributes to the pathogenesis of both neoplastic and inflammatory diseases. In human cancer, VEGFR-1 mediated signaling is responsible for both direct tumor activation and angiogenesis. VEGFR-1 mediated activation of nonmalignant supporting cells, particularly stromal, dendritic, hematopoietic cells, and macrophages, is also likely important for cancer pathogenesis. VEGFR-1 is also hypothesized to enable the development of cancer metastases by means of activation and premetastatic localization in distant organs of bone marrow-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells, which express VEGFR-1. IMC-18F1 is a fully human IgG(1) antibody that binds to VEGFR-1 and has been associated with the inhibition of cancer growth in multiple in vitro and human tumor xenograft models. The preliminary results of phase 1 investigations have also indicated a favorable safety profile for IMC-18F1 at doses that confer antibody concentrations that are associated with relevant antitumor activity in preclinical models.
Cancer 02/2010; 116(4 Suppl):1027-32. · 5.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study was undertaken to investigate the effect of lymphatic inhibition on joint and draining lymph node (LN) pathology during the course of arthritis progression in mice.
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-transgenic mice were used as a model of chronic inflammatory arthritis. Mice were subjected to contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging to obtain ankle and knee joint synovial volumes and draining popliteal LN volumes before and after 8 weeks of treatment with vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3) neutralizing antibody, VEGFR-2 neutralizing antibody, or isotype IgG. Animals were subjected to near-infrared lymphatic imaging to determine the effect of VEGFR-3 neutralization on lymph transport from paws to draining popliteal LNs. Histologic, immunohistochemical, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analyses were used to examine lymphatic vessel formation and the morphology of joints and popliteal LNs.
Compared with IgG treatment, VEGFR-3 neutralizing antibody treatment significantly decreased the size of popliteal LNs, the number of lymphatic vessels in joints and popliteal LNs, lymphatic drainage from paws to popliteal LNs, and the number of VEGF-C-expressing CD11b+ myeloid cells in popliteal LNs. However, it increased the synovial volume and area of inflammation in ankle and knee joints. VEGFR-2 neutralizing antibody, in contrast, inhibited both lymphangiogenesis and joint inflammation.
These findings indicate that lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic drainage are reciprocally related to the severity of joint lesions during the development of chronic arthritis. Lymphatic drainage plays a beneficial role in controlling the progression of chronic inflammation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Implantation of an embryo induces rapid proliferation and differentiation of uterine stromal cells, forming a new structure, the decidua. One salient feature of decidua formation is a marked increase in maternal angiogenesis. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-dependent pathways are active in the ovary, uterus, and embryo, and inactivation of VEGF function in any of these structures might prevent normal pregnancy development. We hypothesized that decidual angiogenesis is regulated by VEGF acting through specific VEGF receptors (VEGFRs). To test this hypothesis, we developed a murine pregnancy model in which systemic administration of a receptor-blocking antibody would act specifically on uterine angiogenesis and not on ovarian or embryonic angiogenesis. In our model, ovarian function was replaced with exogenous progesterone, and blocking antibodies were administered prior to embryonic expression of VEGFRs. After administration of a single dose of the anti-VEGFR-2 antibody during the peri-implantation period, no embryos were detected on embryonic d 10.5. The pregnancy was disrupted because of a significant reduction in decidual angiogenesis, which under physiological conditions peaks on embryonic d 5.5 and 6.5. Inactivation of VEGFR-3 reduced angiogenesis in the primary decidual zone, whereas administration of VEGFR-1 blocking antibodies had no effect. Pregnancy was not disrupted after administration of anti-VEGFR-3 or anti-VEGFR-1 antibodies. Thus, the VEGF/VEGFR-2 pathway plays a key role in the maintenance of early pregnancy through its regulation of peri-implantation angiogenesis in the uterine decidua. This newly formed decidual vasculature serves as the first exchange apparatus for the developing embryo until the placenta becomes functionally active.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Myelosuppression damages the bone marrow (BM) vascular niche, but it is unclear how regeneration of bone marrow vessels contributes to engraftment of transplanted hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) and restoration of hematopoiesis. We found that chemotherapy and sublethal irradiation induced minor regression of BM sinusoidal endothelial cells (SECs), while lethal irradiation induced severe regression of SECs and required BM transplantation (BMT) for regeneration. Within the BM, VEGFR2 expression specifically demarcated a continuous network of arterioles and SECs, with arterioles uniquely expressing Sca1 and SECs uniquely expressing VEGFR3. Conditional deletion of VEGFR2 in adult mice blocked regeneration of SECs in sublethally irradiated animals and prevented hematopoietic reconstitution. Similarly, inhibition of VEGFR2 signaling in lethally irradiated wild-type mice rescued with BMT severely impaired SEC reconstruction and prevented engraftment and reconstitution of HSPCs. Therefore, regeneration of SECs via VEGFR2 signaling is essential for engraftment of HSPCs and restoration of hematopoiesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The underlying mechanism by which anti-VEGF agents prolong cancer patient survival is poorly understood. We show that in a mouse tumor model, VEGF systemically impairs functions of multiple organs including those in the hematopoietic and endocrine systems, leading to early death. Anti-VEGF antibody, bevacizumab, and anti-VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR-2), but not anti-VEGFR-1, reversed VEGF-induced cancer-associated systemic syndrome (CASS) and prevented death in tumor-bearing mice. Surprisingly, VEGFR2 blockage improved survival by rescuing mice from CASS without significantly compromising tumor growth, suggesting that "off-tumor" VEGF targets are more sensitive than the tumor vasculature to anti-VEGF drugs. Similarly, VEGF-induced CASS occurred in a spontaneous breast cancer mouse model overexpressing neu. Clinically, VEGF expression and CASS severity positively correlated in various human cancers. These findings define novel therapeutic targets of anti-VEGF agents and provide mechanistic insights into the action of this new class of clinically available anti-VEGF cancer drugs.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2008; 105(47):18513-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lymph node involvement denotes a poor outcome for patients with prostate cancer. Our group, along with others, has shown that initial tumor cell dissemination to regional lymph nodes via lymphatics also promotes systemic metastasis in mouse models. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of suppressive therapies targeting either the angiogenic or lymphangiogenic axis in inhibiting regional lymph node and systemic metastasis in subcutaneous and orthotopic prostate tumor xenografts. Both androgen-dependent and more aggressive androgen-independent prostate tumors were used in our investigations. Interestingly, we observed that the threshold for dissemination is lower in the vascular-rich prostatic microenvironment compared with subcutaneously grafted tumors. Both vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) ligand trap (sVEGFR-3) and antibody directed against VEGFR-3 (mF4-31C1) significantly reduced tumor lymphangiogenesis and metastasis to regional lymph nodes and distal vital organs without influencing tumor growth. Conversely, angiogenic blockade by short hairpin RNA against VEGF or anti-VEGFR-2 antibody (DC101) reduced tumor blood vessel density, significantly delayed tumor growth, and reduced systemic metastasis, although it was ineffective in reducing lymphangiogenesis or nodal metastasis. Collectively, these data clarify the utility of vascular therapeutics in prostate tumor growth and metastasis, particularly in the context of the prostate microenvironment. Our findings highlight the importance of lymphangiogenic therapies in the control of regional lymph node and systemic metastasis.
Cancer Research 11/2008; 68(19):7828-37. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lymph node involvement denotes a poor outcome for patients
with prostate cancer. Our group, along with others, has shown
that initial tumor cell dissemination to regional lymph nodes
via lymphatics also promotes systemic metastasis in mouse
models. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of
suppressive therapies targeting either the angiogenic or
lymphangiogenic axis in inhibiting regional lymph node and
systemic metastasis in subcutaneous and orthotopic prostate
tumor xenografts. Both androgen-dependent and more
aggressive androgen-independent prostate tumors were used
in our investigations. Interestingly, we observed that the
threshold for dissemination is lower in the vascular-rich
prostatic microenvironment compared with subcutaneously
grafted tumors. Both vascular endothelial growth factor-C
(VEGF-C) ligand trap (sVEGFR-3) and antibody directed
against VEGFR-3 (mF4-31C1) significantly reduced tumor
lymphangiogenesis and metastasis to regional lymph nodes
and distal vital organs without influencing tumor growth.
Conversely, angiogenic blockade by short hairpin RNA against
VEGF or anti–VEGFR-2 antibody (DC101) reduced tumor
blood vessel density, significantly delayed tumor growth, and
reduced systemic metastasis, although it was ineffective in
reducing lymphangiogenesis or nodal metastasis. Collectively,
these data clarify the utility of vascular therapeutics in
prostate tumor growth and metastasis, particularly in the
context of the prostate microenvironment. Our findings
highlight the importance of lymphangiogenic therapies in
the control of regional lymph node and systemic metastasis.