[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The biological functions of VEGF-B in cancer progression remain poorly understood. Here, we report that VEGF-B promotes cancer metastasis through the remodeling of tumor microvasculature. Knockdown of VEGF-B in tumors resulted in increased perivascular cell coverage and impaired pulmonary metastasis of human melanomas. In contrast, the gain of VEGF-B function in tumors led to pseudonormalized tumor vasculatures that were highly leaky and poorly perfused. Tumors expressing high levels of VEGF-B were more metastatic, although primary tumor growth was largely impaired. Similarly, VEGF-B in a VEGF-A-null tumor resulted in attenuated primary tumor growth but substantial pulmonary metastases. VEGF-B also led to highly metastatic phenotypes in Vegfr1 tk(-/-) mice and mice treated with anti-VEGF-A. These data indicate that VEGF-B promotes cancer metastasis through a VEGF-A-independent mechanism. High expression levels of VEGF-B in two large-cohort studies of human patients with lung squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma correlated with poor survival. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that VEGF-B is a vascular remodeling factor promoting cancer metastasis and that targeting VEGF-B may be an important therapeutic approach for cancer metastasis.
Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inhibition of Dll4 (delta-like ligand 4)-Notch signaling-mediated tumor angiogenesis is an attractive approach in cancer therapy. However, inhibition of Dll4-Notch signaling has produced different effects in various tumors, and no biomarkers are available for predicting the anti-Dll4-Notch-associated antitumor activity. We show that human and mouse tumor cell-derived placental growth factor (PlGF) is a key determinant of the Dll4-Notch-induced vascular remodeling and tumor growth. In natural PlGF-expressing human tumors, inhibition of Dll4-Notch signaling markedly accelerated tumor growth by increasing blood perfusion in nonleaking tumor vasculatures. Conversely, in PlGF-negative tumors, Dll4 inhibition suppressed tumor growth by the formation of nonproductive and leaky vessels. Surprisingly, genetic inactivation of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR1) completely abrogated the PlGF-modulated vascular remodeling and tumor growth, indicating a crucial role for VEGFR1-mediated signals in modulating Dll4-Notch functions. These findings provide mechanistic insights on PlGF-VEGFR1 signaling in the modulation of the Dll4-Notch pathway in angiogenesis and tumor growth, and have therapeutic implications of PlGF as a biomarker for predicting the antitumor benefits of Dll4 and Notch inhibitors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although inflammation and metastasis are two well-known hallmarks of malignant disease, the relationship between inflammation and lymphatic metastasis is an unexplored research area. We recently elucidated a sophisticated mechanism by which TNFα-induced tumor inflammation conscripts macrophage-mediated VEGF-C-VEGFR3 signaling in lymphangiogenesis and metastasis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inflammation and lymphangiogenesis are two cohesively coupled processes that promote tumour growth and invasion. Here we report that TNF-α markedly promotes tumour lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis. The TNF-α-TNFR1 signalling pathway directly stimulates lymphatic endothelial cell activity through a VEGFR3-independent mechanism. However, VEGFR3-induced lymphatic endothelial cell tips are a prerequisite for lymphatic vessel growth in vivo, and a VEGFR3 blockade completely ablates TNF-α-induced lymphangiogenesis. Moreover, TNF-α-TNFR1-activated inflammatory macrophages produce high levels of VEGF-C to coordinately activate VEGFR3. Genetic deletion of TNFR1 (Tnfr1(-/-)) in mice or depletion of tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs) virtually eliminates TNF-α-induced lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis. Gain-of-function experiments show that reconstitution of Tnfr1(+/+) macrophages in Tnfr1(-/-) mice largely restores tumour lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis. These findings shed mechanistic light on the intimate interplay between inflammation and lymphangiogenesis in cancer metastasis, and propose therapeutic intervention of lymphatic metastasis by targeting the TNF-α-TNFR1 pathway.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Placental growth factor (PlGF) remodels tumor vasculatures toward a normalized phenotype, which affects tumor growth, invasion and drug responses. However, the coordinative and spatiotemporal relation between PlGF and VEGF in modulation of tumor angiogenesis and vascular remodeling is less understood. Here we report that PlGF positively and negatively modulate tumor growth, angiogenesis, and vascular remodeling through a VEGF-dependent mechanism. In two independent tumor models, we show that PlGF inhibited tumor growth and angiogenesis and displayed a marked vascular remodeling effect, leading to normalized microvessels with infrequent vascular branches and increased perivascular cell coverage. Surprisingly, elimination of VEGF gene (i.e., VEGF-null) in PlGF-expressing tumors resulted in (i) accelerated tumor growth rates and angiogenesis and (ii) complete attenuation of PlGF-induced vascular normalization. Thus, PlGF positively and negatively modulates tumor growth, angiogenesis, and vascular remodeling through VEGF-dependent spatiotemporal mechanisms. Our data uncover molecular mechanisms underlying the complex interplay between PlGF and VEGF in modulation of tumor growth and angiogenesis, and have conceptual implication for antiangiogenic cancer therapy.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anti-platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) drugs are routinely used in front-line therapy for the treatment of various cancers, but the molecular mechanism underlying their dose-dependent impact on vascular remodelling remains poorly understood. Here we show that anti-PDGF drugs significantly inhibit tumour growth and metastasis in high PDGF-BB-producing tumours by preventing pericyte loss and vascular permeability, whereas they promote tumour cell dissemination and metastasis in PDGF-BB-low-producing or PDGF-BB-negative tumours by ablating pericytes from tumour vessels. We show that this opposing effect is due to PDGF-β signalling in pericytes. Persistent exposure of pericytes to PDGF-BB markedly downregulates PDGF-β and inactivation of the PDGF-β signalling decreases integrin α1β1 levels, which impairs pericyte adhesion to extracellular matrix components in blood vessels. Our data suggest that tumour PDGF-BB levels may serve as a biomarker for selection of tumour-bearing hosts for anti-PDGF therapy and unsupervised use of anti-PDGF drugs could potentially promote tumour invasion and metastasis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Systemic therapy with anti-VEGF drugs such as bevacizumab is widely used for treatment of human patients with various solid tumors. However, systemic impacts of such drugs in host healthy vasculatures remain poorly understood. Here, we show that, in mice, systemic delivery of an anti-VEGF or an anti-VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-2 neutralizing antibody caused global vascular regression. Among all examined tissues, vasculatures in endocrine glands, intestinal villi, and uterus are the most affected in response to VEGF or VEGFR-2 blockades. Thyroid vascular fenestrations were virtually completely blocked by VEGF blockade, leading to marked accumulation of intraendothelial caveolae vesicles. VEGF blockade markedly increased thyroid endothelial cell apoptosis, and withdrawal of anti-VEGF resulted in full recovery of vascular density and architecture after 14 d. Prolonged anti-VEGF treatment resulted in a significant decrease of the circulating level of the predominant thyroid hormone free thyroxine, but not the minimal isoform of triiodothyronine, suggesting that chronic anti-VEGF treatment impairs thyroid functions. Conversely, VEGFR-1-specific blockade produced virtually no obvious phenotypes. These findings provide structural and functional bases of anti-VEGF-specific drug-induced side effects in relation to vascular changes in healthy tissues. Understanding anti-VEGF drug-induced vascular alterations in healthy tissues is crucial to minimize and even to avoid adverse effects produced by currently used anti-VEGF-specific drugs.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The role of placental growth factor (PlGF) in modulation of tumor angiogenesis and tumor growth remains an enigma. Furthermore, anti-PlGF therapy in tumor angiogenesis and tumor growth remains controversial in preclinical tumor models. Here we show that in both human and mouse tumors, PlGF induced the formation of dilated and normalized vascular networks that were hypersensitive to anti-VEGF and anti-VEGFR-2 therapy, leading to dormancy of a substantial number of avascular tumors. Loss-of-function using plgf shRNA in a human choriocarcinoma significantly accelerated tumor growth rates and acquired resistance to anti-VEGF drugs, whereas gain-of-function of PlGF in a mouse tumor increased anti-VEGF sensitivity. Further, we show that VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-1 blocking antibodies displayed opposing effects on tumor angiogenesis. VEGFR-1 blockade and genetic deletion of the tyrosine kinase domain of VEGFR-1 resulted in enhanced tumor angiogenesis. These findings demonstrate that tumor-derived PlGF negatively modulates tumor angiogenesis and tumor growth and may potentially serve as a predictive marker of anti-VEGF cancer therapy.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Molecular mechanisms underlying circadian-regulated physiological processes remain largely unknown. Here, we show that disruption of the circadian clock by both constant exposure to light and genetic manipulation of key genes in zebrafish led to impaired developmental angiogenesis. A bmal1-specific morpholino inhibited developmental angiogenesis in zebrafish embryos without causing obvious nonvascular phenotypes. Conversely, a period2 morpholino accelerated angiogenic vessel growth, suggesting that Bmal1 and Period2 display opposing angiogenic effects. Using a promoter-reporter system consisting of various deleted vegf-promoter mutants, we show that Bmal1 directly binds to and activates the vegf promoter via E-boxes. Additionally, we provide evidence that knockdown of Bmal1 leads to impaired Notch-inhibition-induced vascular sprouting. These results shed mechanistic insight on the role of the circadian clock in regulation of developmental angiogenesis, and our findings may be reasonably extended to other types of physiological or pathological angiogenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling system contributes to tumor angiogenesis and vascular remodeling. Here we show in mouse tumor models that PDGF-BB induces erythropoietin (EPO) mRNA and protein expression by targeting stromal and perivascular cells that express PDGF receptor-β (PDGFR-β). Tumor-derived PDGF-BB promoted tumor growth, angiogenesis and extramedullary hematopoiesis at least in part through modulation of EPO expression. Moreover, adenoviral delivery of PDGF-BB to tumor-free mice increased both EPO production and erythropoiesis, as well as protecting from irradiation-induced anemia. At the molecular level, we show that the PDGF-BB-PDGFR-bβ signaling system activates the EPO promoter, acting in part through transcriptional regulation by the transcription factor Atf3, possibly through its association with two additional transcription factors, c-Jun and Sp1. Our findings suggest that PDGF-BB-induced EPO promotes tumor growth through two mechanisms: first, paracrine stimulation of tumor angiogenesis by direct induction of endothelial cell proliferation, migration, sprouting and tube formation, and second, endocrine stimulation of extramedullary hematopoiesis leading to increased oxygen perfusion and protection against tumor-associated anemia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This protocol describes a powerful in vivo method to quantitatively study the formation of new lymphatic vessels in the avascular cornea without interference of pre-existing lymphatics. Implantation of 100 ng of lymphangiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A, VEGF-C or fibroblast growth factor-2, together with slow-release polymers, into a surgically created micropocket in the mouse cornea elicits a robust lymphangiogenic response. Newly formed lymphatic vessels are detected by immunohistochemical staining of the flattened corneal tissue with lymphatic endothelial-specific markers such as lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor-1; less-specific markers such as vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 may also be used. Lymphatic vessel growth in relation to hemangiogenesis can be readily detected starting at day 5 or 6 after pellet implantation and persists for ∼14 d. This protocol offers a unique opportunity to study the mechanisms underlying lymphatic vessel formation, remodeling and function.