Kari Alitalo's research while affiliated with Wihuri Research Institute and other places

Publications (1,002)

Article
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is an aggressive pediatric soft tissue cancer with features of skeletal muscle. Because of poor survival of RMS patients and severe long-term side effects of RMS therapies, novel RMS therapies are urgently needed. Here we show that the PROX1 transcription factor is highly expressed in RMS tumors regardless of their cell type...
Article
Background: Recent studies have indicated that sodium storage is influenced by macrophages that secrete VEGF-C (vascular endothelial growth factor) during salt stress thus stimulating lymphangiogenesis, thereby acting as a buffer against increased blood pressure (BP). We aimed to explore the role of dermal lymphatics in BP and sodium homeostasis....
Preprint
Objective Vascular growth followed by vessel specification is crucial for the establishment of a hierarchical blood vascular network. We have here investigated mechanisms underlying venogenesis, particularly the molecular control over venous fate acquisition during vascular development. Approach and Results We analyzed the function of TIE1 as well...
Article
BACKGROUND Lymphedema is a common problem after breast cancer treatment. Lymfactin® is a prolymphangiogenic growth factor vector inducing the expression of human vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C). It promotes growth and repair of lymphatic vessels. METHODS Lymfactin® was combined with microvascular lymph node transfer surgery (VLNT) to...
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The meninges, comprising the leptomeninges (pia and arachnoid layers) and the pachymeninx (dura layer), participate in central nervous system (CNS) autoimmunity, but their relative contributions remain unclear. Here we report on findings in animal models of CNS autoimmunity and in patients with multiple sclerosis, where, in acute and chronic diseas...
Article
Background: Wnt/β-catenin signaling is a highly conserved signaling pathway that regulates the transcription factor PROX1. The role of β-catenin and PROX1 in pancreatic cancer is ambiguous, as some studies have associated their expression with tumor regression and some with tumor progression. Objective: We have investigated their expression in s...
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Vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) induces lymphangiogenesis via VEGF receptor-3 (VEGFR3), encoded by the most frequently mutated gene in human primary lymphedema. Angiopoietins (Angs) and their Tie receptors regulate lymphatic vessel development and mutations of the ANGPT2 gene were recently found in human primary lymphedema. However, t...
Article
Blood vessels are thought to form either by de novo vasculogenesis or by angiogenesis from pre-existing blood vessels. Research now finds that anal fin blood vessels form by endothelial transdifferentiation from lymphatic vessels.
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Understanding the pathological mechanisms unfolding after chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI) could reveal new therapeutic entry points. During the post-TBI sequel, the involvement of cerebrospinal fluid drainage through the meningeal lymphatic vessels was proposed. Here, we used K14-VEGFR3-Ig transgenic mice to analyze whether a developmental dys...
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Humanized mouse models and mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 virus are increasingly used to study COVID-19 pathogenesis, so it is important to learn where the SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 is expressed. Here we mapped ACE2 expression during mouse postnatal development and in adulthood. Pericytes in the CNS, heart, and pancreas express ACE2 strongly, as do perine...
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Vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) and their receptors (VEGFRs) are quintessential for the development and maintenance of blood and lymphatic vessels. However, genetic interactions between the VEGFRs are poorly understood. VEGFR2 is the dominant receptor that is required for the growth and survival of the endothelium, whereas deletion of V...
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Somatic mutations in APC or CTNNB1 genes lead to aberrant Wnt signaling and colorectal cancer (CRC) initiation and progression via-catenin–T cell factor/lymphoid enhancer binding factor TCF/LEF transcription factors. We found that Lef1 was expressed exclusively in Apc-mutant, Wnt ligand–independent tumors, but not in ligand-dependent, serrated tumo...
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Small animal models are of crucial importance for assessing COVID-19 countermeasures. Common laboratory mice would be well-suited for this purpose but are not susceptible to infection with wild-type SARS-CoV-2. However, the development of mouse-adapted virus strains has revealed key mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that increase infectivit...
Article
Cardiac muscle utilizes multiple sources of energy including glucose and fatty acid (FA). The heart cannot synthesize FA and relies on obtaining it from other sources, with lipoprotein lipase (LPL) breakdown of lipoproteins suggested to be a key source of FA for cardiac use. Recent work has indicated that cardiac vascular endothelial growth factor...
Article
Rationale Successful recovery from acute lung injury requires inhibition of neutrophil influx and clearance of apoptotic neutrophils. However, the mechanisms underlying recovery remain unclear. Objectives We investigated the ameliorative effects of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 (VEGFR-3)/VEGF-C signaling in macrophages in lipopolys...
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More VEGF, more life—and health span Advanced aging is celebrated but its ill effects, deterioration at the cell, tissue, and organ levels, are not. Grunewald et al . provide evidence for the vascular theory of aging, which reports that age-related decrease of vascular function is a driver of organismal aging at large (see the Perspective by August...
Preprint
Small animal models are of crucial importance for assessing COVID-19 countermeasures. Common laboratory mice would be well-suited for this purpose but are not susceptible to infection with wild-type SARS-CoV-2. Herein we show that the SARS-CoV-2 beta variant attains infectibility to BALB/c mice and causes pulmonary changes consistent with COVID-19.
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Tryptophan catabolism is a major metabolic pathway utilized by several professional and non-professional antigen presenting cells to maintain immunological tolerance. Here we report that 3-hydroxy-l-kynurenamine (3-HKA) is a biogenic amine produced via an alternative pathway of tryptophan metabolism. In vitro, 3-HKA has an anti-inflammatory profile...
Article
Lymphatic vessels maintain tissue fluid homeostasis by returning to blood circulation interstitial fluid that has extravasated from the blood capillaries. They provide a trafficking route for cells of the immune system, thus critically contributing to immune surveillance. Developmental or functional defects in the lymphatic vessels, their obstructi...
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The tumour suppressor APC is the most commonly mutated gene in colorectal cancer. Loss of Apc in intestinal stem cells drives the formation of adenomas in mice via increased WNT signalling¹, but reduced secretion of WNT ligands increases the ability of Apc-mutant intestinal stem cells to colonize a crypt (known as fixation)². Here we investigated h...
Article
Background and aims Secretory phospholipase A2 (PLA2) hydrolyzes LDL phospholipids generating modified LDL particles (PLA2-LDL) with increased atherogenic properties. Exocytosis of Weibel–Palade bodies (WPB) releases angiopoietin 2 (Ang2) and externalizes P-selectin, which both play important roles in vascular inflammation. Here, we investigated th...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03204-z.
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Background & aims: Mutations in the APC gene and other genes in the Wnt signaling pathway contribute to development of colorectal carcinomas. R-spondins (RSPOs) are secreted proteins that amplify Wnt signaling in intestinal stem cells. Alterations in RSPO genes have been identified in human colorectal tumors. We studied the effects of expressing R...
Article
Background: Recent discoveries have indicated that, in the developing heart, sinus venosus and endocardium provide major sources of endothelium for coronary vessel growth that supports the expanding myocardium. Here we set out to study the origin of the coronary vessels that develop in response to vascular endothelial growth factor B (VEGF-B) in th...
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Arterial networks enlarge in response to increase in tissue metabolism to facilitate flow and nutrient delivery. Typically, the transition of a growing artery with a small diameter into a large caliber artery with a sizeable diameter occurs upon the blood flow driven change in number and shape of endothelial cells lining the arterial lumen. Here, u...
Article
Primary lymphedema is caused by developmental and functional defects of the lymphatic vascular system that result in accumulation of protein-rich fluid in tissues, resulting in edema. The 28 currently known genes causing primary lymphedema can explain <30% of cases. Angiopoietin 1 (ANGPT1) and ANGPT2 function via the TIE1-TIE2 (tyrosine kinase with...
Article
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) reside in the bone marrow (BM) stem cell niche, which provides a vital source of HSC regulatory signals. Radiation and chemotherapy disrupt the HSC niche, including its sinusoidal vessels and perivascular cells, contributing to delayed hematopoietic recovery. Thus, identification of factors that can protect the HSC n...
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Emerging evidence suggests that intestinal stromal cells (IntSCs) play essential roles in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. However, the extent of heterogeneity within the villi stromal compartment and how IntSCs regulate the structure and function of specialized intestinal lymphatic capillary called lacteal remain elusive. Here we show that sele...
Article
During the growth of various cancers, primary tumors can escape anti-tumor immune responses of their host and eventually disseminate into distant organs. Peritumoral lymphatic vessels connect the primary tumor to lymph nodes, facilitating tumor entry into lymph nodes, systemic circulation, and metastasis. Lymph node metastases that occur frequently...
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Platelet-derived growth factor B (PDGFB) plays a crucial role in recruitment of PDGF receptor β–positive pericytes to blood vessels. The endothelium is an essential source of PDGFB in this process. Platelets constitute a major reservoir of PDGFB and are continuously activated in the tumor microenvironment, exposing tumors to the plethora of growth...
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Lymphatic malformations (LMs) are debilitating vascular anomalies presenting with large cysts (macrocystic) or lesions that infiltrate tissues (microcystic). Cellular mechanisms underlying LM pathology are poorly understood. Here we show that the somatic PIK3CAH1047R mutation, resulting in constitutive activation of the p110α PI3K, underlies both m...
Article
In allergic airway inflammation, VEGFR-3-mediated lymphangiogenesis occurs in humans and mouse models, yet its immunological roles, particularly in adaptive immunity, are poorly understood. Here, we explored how pro-lymphangiogenic signaling affects the allergic response to house dust mite (HDM). In the acute inflammatory phase, the lungs of mice t...
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Objective Lymphatics play an essential pathophysiological role in promoting fluid and immune cell tissue clearance. Conversely, immune cells may influence lymphatic function and remodeling. Recently, cardiac lymphangiogenesis has been proposed as a therapeutic target to prevent heart failure after myocardial infarction (MI). We investigated the eff...
Preprint
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Accumulating clinical observations suggest pathogenesis beyond viral pneumonia and its secondary consequences in COVID-19 patients. In particular, many patients develop profound hyperinflammation and hypercoagulopathy with disseminated thrombogenesis and thromboembolism, which we observe also in a Swedish COVID-19 intensive care patient cohort. To...
Article
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OBJECTIVE To study the safety and tolerability of Lymfactin® treatment combined with microvascular lymph node transfer surgery in patients with upper limb lymphedema. BACKGROUND Upper limb lymphedema is a common clinical challenge after breast cancer surgery and/or radiotherapy. Lymfactin® is an adenovirus type 5–based gene therapy involving expre...
Preprint
Full-text available
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is an aggressive pediatric soft tissue cancer in need for novel therapies. Here we show that the PROX1 transcription factor, which is essential for normal myoblast differentiation, is highly expressed in RMS tumors. We demonstrate that PROX1 is needed for RMS cell stemness and growth in vitro, and for RMS tumor formation in m...
Article
Abnormal vasculature in tumors leads to poor tissue perfusion and cytostatic drug delivery. Although drugs inducing vascular normalization, for example, angiopoietin-2 (Ang2)-blocking antibodies, have shown promising results in preclinical tumor models, clinical studies have so far shown only little efficacy. Because Ang2 is known to play a protect...
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Angiopoietin-2 (Ang2), a ligand of the endothelial Tie2 tyrosine kinase, is involved in vascular inflammation and leakage in critically ill patients. However, the role of Ang2 in demyelinating central nervous system (CNS) autoimmune diseases is unknown. Here, we report that Ang2 is critically involved in the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune...
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Immune surveillance against pathogens and tumours in the central nervous system is thought to be limited owing to the lack of lymphatic drainage. However, the characterization of the meningeal lymphatic network has shed light on previously unappreciated ways that an immune response can be elicited to antigens that are expressed in the brain1–3. Des...
Article
Multiple insults to the brain lead to neuronal cell death, thus raising the question to what extent can lost neurons be replenished by adult neurogenesis. Here we focused on the hippocampus and especially the dentate gyrus (DG), a vulnerable brain region and one of the two sites where adult neuronal stem cells (NSCs) reside. While adult hippocampal...
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Background Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by two main neuropathological hallmarks: extracellular plaques of amyloid-β (Aβ) protein and intracellular aggregates of tau protein. Although tau is normally a soluble monomer that bind microtubules, in disease it forms insoluble, hyperphosphorylated aggregates in the cell body. Aside from its role i...
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Cranial lymphatic vessels (LVs) are involved in the transport of fluids, macromolecules and central nervous system (CNS) immune responses. Little information about spinal LVs is available, because these delicate structures are embedded within vertebral tissues and difficult to visualize using traditional histology. Here we show an extended vertebra...
Poster
Aim: Sorafenib (Nexavar) is a multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor that is used for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma and renal cell carcinoma. Cancer treatment with sorafenib has been reported to be associated with cardiotoxic side effects such as hypertension, myocardial ischemia, thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, whereas incidence of LV...
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Background: Angiopoietin growth factors (Angs) regulate angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis by binding to the endothelial Tie2 receptor. Ang2 expression is elevated in tissue hypoxia and inflammation, which also induce cleavage of the extracellular domain of the orphan Tie1 receptor. Here we have examined if the concentrations of Ang2 and the solub...
Conference Paper
Colorectal cancers (CRCs) most commonly develop from adenomas harboring a mutant APC gene that leads to aberrant activation of the canonical Wnt/ß-catenin pathway. One of the mechanisms of adenoma progression involves the PROX1 transcription factor that promotes tumor dysplasia and progression in CRC. In the normal intestinal epithelial cells, liga...
Conference Paper
Colorectal cancers (CRCs) most commonly develop from adenomas harboring a mutant APC gene that leads to aberrant activation of the canonical Wnt/ß-catenin pathway. One of the mechanisms of adenoma progression involves the PROX1 transcription factor that promotes tumor dysplasia and progression in CRC. In the normal intestinal epithelial cells, liga...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Heart failure, which is a major global health problem, is often preceded by pathological cardiac hypertrophy. The expansion of the cardiac vasculature, to maintain adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients, is a key determinant of whether the heart grows in a physiological compensated manner or a pathological decompensated manner. Bidire...
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Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) acts primarily on endothelial cells, but also on non-vascular targets, e.g. in the CNS and immune system. Here we describe a novel, unique VEGF-C form in the human reproductive system produced via cleavage by kallikrein-related peptidase 3 (KLK3), aka prostate-specific antigen (PSA). KLK3 activated VEGF...
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Activin A and myostatin, members of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β superfamily of secreted factors, are potent negative regulators of muscle growth, but their contribution to myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury is not known. The aim of this study was to investigate if activin 2B (ACVR2B) receptor ligands contribute to myocardial IR...
Article
A lacteal is a blunt-ended, long, tube-like lymphatic vessel located in the center of each intestinal villus that provides a unique route for drainage of absorbed lipids from the small intestine. However, key regulators for maintaining lacteal integrity are poorly understood. Here, we explore whether and how the gut microbiota regulates lacteal int...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cranial lymphatic vessels (LVs) are involved in transport of fluids, macromolecules and CNS immune responses. Little information about spinal LVs is available, because these delicate structures are embedded within vertebral tissues and difficult to visualize using traditional histology. Here we reveal an extended vertebral column LV network using t...
Article
Full-text available
Background Prosthetic vascular grafts in humans characteristically lack confluent endothelialization regardless of the duration of implantation. Use of high-porosity grafts has been proposed as a way to induce endothelialization through transgraft capillarization, although early experiments failed to show increased healing in man. Objectives We hy...
Article
Full-text available
The development of new lymphatic vessels occurs in many cancerous and inflammatory diseases through the binding of VEGF-C to its receptors, VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3. The regulation of VEGFR-2/VEGFR-3 heterodimerisation and its downstream signaling in lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) remain poorly understood. Here, we identify the endocytic receptor, u...
Article
Background: Prosthetic vascular grafts in humans characteristically lack confluent endothelialization regardless the duration of implantation. Use of high-porosity grafts has been proposed as a way to induce endothelialization through transgraft capillarization, although early experiments failed to show increased healing in man. Objectives: We hypo...
Article
Elevated levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A are thought to cause glomerular endothelial cell (GEnC) dysfunction and albuminuria in diabetic nephropathy. We hypothesized that VEGFC could counteract these effects of VEGFA to protect the glomerular filtration barrier and reduce albuminuria. Isolated glomeruli were stimulated ex vivo...
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Molecular markers of sorafenib efficacy in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) patients are not available. The purpose of this study was to discover genetic markers of survival in mRCC patients treated with sorafenib. Germline variants from 56 genes were genotyped in 295 mRCC patients. Variant-overall survival (OS) associations were tested in mu...