Early Post-stroke Activation of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor 2 Hinders the Receptor 1-Dependent Neuroprotection Afforded by the Endogenous Ligand.
ABSTRACT: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has long been connected to the development of tissue lesion following ischemic stroke. Contradictory findings either situate VEGF as a promoter of large infarct volumes or as a potential attenuator of damage due to its well documented neuroprotective capability. The core of this discrepancy mostly lies on the substantial number of pleiotropic functions driven by VEGF. Mechanistically, these effects are activated through several VEGF receptors for which various closely related ligands exist. Here, we tested in an experimental model of stroke how the differential activation of VEGF receptors 1 and 2 would modify functional and histological outcomes in the acute phase post-ischemia. We also assessed whether VEGF-mediated responses would involve the modulation of inflammatory mechanisms and how this trophic factor acted specifically on neuronal receptors. We produced ischemic infarcts in adult rats by transiently occluding the middle cerebral artery and induced the pharmacological inhibition of VEGF receptors by i.c.v. administration of the specific VEGFR2 inhibitor SU1498 and the pan-VEGFR blocker Axitinib. We evaluated the neurological performance of animals at 24 h following stroke and the occurrence of brain infarctions analyzed at the gross metabolic and neuronal viability levels. We also assessed the induction of peripheral pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood and assessed the polarization of activated microglia. Finally, we studied the direct involvement of cortical neuronal receptors for VEGF with in vitro assays of excitotoxic damage. Preferential VEGFR1 activation by the endogenous ligand promotes neuronal protection and prevents the presentation of large volume infarcts that highly correlate with neurological performance, while the concomitant activation of VEGFR2 reduces this effect, even in the presence of exogenous ligand. This process partially involves the polarization of microglia to the state M2. At the cellular level, neurons also responded better to the preferential activation of VEGFR1 when challenged to N-methyl-D-aspartate-induced excitotoxicity. Endogenous activation of VEGFR2 hinders the neuroprotective mechanisms mediated by the activation of VEGFR1. The selective modulation of these concurrent processes might enable the development of therapeutic approaches that target specific VEGFR1-mediated signaling during the acute phase post-stroke.
Project description:Although blocking VEGF has a positive effect in wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the effect of blocking its receptors remains unclear. This was an investigation of the effect of VEGF receptor (VEGFR) 1 and/or 2 blockade on retinal microglia/macrophage infiltration in laser-induced choroidal neovascularization (CNV), a model of wet AMD. CNV lesions were isolated by laser capture microdissection at 3, 7, and 14 days after laser and analyzed by RT-PCR and immunofluorescence staining for mRNA and protein expression, respectively. Neutralizing antibodies for VEGFR1 or R2 and the microglia inhibitor minocycline were injected intraperitoneally (IP). Anti-CD11b, CD45 and Iba1 antibodies were used to confirm the cell identity of retinal microglia/macrophage, in the RPE/choroidal flat mounts or retinal cross sections. CD11b(+), CD45(+) or Iba1(+) cells were counted. mRNA of VEGFR1 and its three ligands, PlGF, VEGF-A (VEGF) and VEGF-B, were expressed at all stages, but VEGFR2 were detected only in the late stage. PlGF and VEGF proteins were expressed at 3 and 7 days after laser. Anti-VEGFR1 (MF1) delivered IP 3 days after laser inhibited infiltration of leukocyte populations, largely retinal microglia/macrophage to CNV, while anti-VEGFR2 (DC101) had no effect. At 14 days after laser, both MF1 and DC101 antibodies markedly inhibited retinal microglia/macrophage infiltration into CNV. Therefore, VEGFR1 and R2 play differential roles in the pathogenesis of CNV: VEGFR1 plays a dominant role at 3 days after laser; but both receptors play pivotal roles at 14 days after laser. In vivo imaging demonstrated accumulation of GFP-expressing microglia into CNV in both CX3CR1(gfp/gfp) and CX3CR1(gfp/+) mice. Minocycline treatment caused a significant increase in lectin(+) cells in the sub-retinal space anterior to CNV and a decrease in dextran-perfused neovessels compared to controls. Targeting the chemoattractant molecules that regulate trafficking of retinal microglia/macrophage appears to be a compelling therapeutic strategy to control CNV and treat wet AMD.
Project description:Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is critical for physiological and pathological angiogenesis. Within the tumor microenvironment, VEGF functions as an endothelial cell survival factor, permeability factor, mitogen, and chemotactic agent. The majority of these functions are mediated by VEGF-induced activation of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2), a high affinity receptor tyrosine kinase expressed by endothelial cells and other cell types in the tumor microenvironment. VEGF can also ligate other cell surface receptors including VEGFR1 and neuropilin-1 and -2. However, the importance of VEGF-induced activation of these receptors in tumorigenesis is still unclear. We report the development and characterization of r84, a fully human monoclonal antibody that binds human and mouse VEGF and selectively blocks VEGF from interacting with VEGFR2 but does not interfere with VEGF:VEGFR1 interaction. Selective blockade of VEGF binding to VEGFR2 by r84 is shown through ELISA, receptor binding assays, receptor activation assays, and cell-based functional assays. Furthermore, we show that r84 has potent anti-tumor activity and does not alter tissue histology or blood and urine chemistry after chronic high dose therapy in mice. In addition, chronic r84 therapy does not induce elevated blood pressure levels in some models. The ability of r84 to specifically block VEGF:VEGFR2 binding provides a valuable tool for the characterization of VEGF receptor pathway activation during tumor progression and highlights the utility and safety of selective blockade of VEGF-induced VEGFR2 signaling in tumors.
Project description:Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling is critical for tumor angiogenesis. However, therapies based on inhibition of VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) have shown modest results for patients with cancer. Surprisingly little is known about mechanisms underlying the regulation of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 expression, the main targets of these drugs. Here, analysis of tissue microarrays revealed an inversely reciprocal pattern of VEGFR regulation in the endothelium of human squamous-cell carcinomas (high VEGFR1, low VEGFR2), as compared with the endothelium of control tissues (low VEGFR1, high VEGFR2). Mechanistic studies demonstrated that VEGF signals through the Akt/ERK pathway to inhibit constitutive ubiquitination and induce rapid VEGFR1 accumulation in endothelial cells. Surprisingly, VEGFR1 is primarily localized in the nucleus of endothelial cells. In contrast, VEGF signals through the JNK/c-Jun pathway to induce endocytosis, nuclear translocation, and downregulation of VEGFR2 via ubiquitination. VEGFR1 signaling is required for endothelial-cell survival, while VEGFR2 regulates capillary tube formation. Notably, the antiangiogenic effect of bevacizumab (anti-VEGF antibody) requires normalization of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 levels in human squamous-cell carcinomas vascularized with human blood vessels in immunodeficient mice. Collectively, this work demonstrates that VEGF-induced angiogenesis requires inverse regulation of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 in tumor-associated endothelial cells.
Project description:Physiological disturbances, including temporary hypoxia, are expected to drive angiogenesis during bone repair. Evidence suggests that the angiogenic ligand vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A plays an important role in this process. We characterized the expression of two receptors that are essential for mediating VEGF signaling, VEGFR1/Flt-1 and VEGFR2/Flk-1/KDR, in a mouse rib fracture model. Their mRNA and protein levels were assessed in four healing phases, which were characterized histologically as hemorrhage formation on postfracture day (PFD) 1, inflammatory response on PFD 3, initiation of callus development on PFD 7, and the presence of a mature callus on PFD 14. Transcript was detected for VEGFR1 and VEGFR2, as well as VEGF. While mRNA expression of VEGFR1 was monophasic throughout all healing phases, VEGFR2 showed a biphasic profile with significantly increased mRNA expression during callus formation and maturation. Expression of VEGF mRNA was characterized by a more gradual increase during callus formation. The protein level for VEGFR1 was below detection sensitivity during the initial healing phase. It was then restored to a stable level, detectable through the subsequent healing phases. Hence, the VEGFR1 protein levels partially mirrored the transcript expression profile. In comparison, the protein level of VEGFR2 increased gradually during the healing phases and peaked at callus maturation. This correlated well with the transcriptional expression of VEGFR2. Intact bone from age-matched male mice had considerable protein levels of VEGFR1 and VEGF, but no detectable VEGFR2. Together, these findings uncovered expression signatures of the VEGF-VEGFR axis in endochondral bone repair.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Establishment of viable pregnancy requires embryo implantation and placentation. Ectopic pregnancy (EP) is a pregnancy complication which occurs when an embryo implants outside of the uterine cavity, most often in a fallopian tube. On the other hand, an important aspect of successful implantation is angiogenesis. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent angiogenic factor responsible for vascular development that acts through its receptors, VEGF receptor 1 (VEGFR1) and VEGFR2. This study aims to investigate mRNA expression of VEGF and its receptors in fallopian tubes of women who have EP compared with fallopian tubes of pseudo-pregnant women. We hypothesize that expression of VEGF and its receptors in human fallopian tubes may change during EP. MATERIALS AND METHODS:This was a case-control study. The case group consisted of women who underwent salpingectomy because of EP. The control group consisted of women with normal fallopian tubes that underwent hysterectomy. Prior to tubal sampling, each control subject received an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to produce a state of pseudo-pregnancy. Fallopian tubes from both groups were procured. We investigated VEGF, VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 mRNA expressions in different sections of these tubes (infundibulum, ampulla and isthmus) by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and quantitative PCR (Q-PCR). RESULTS:RT-PCR showed expressions of these genes in all sections of the fallopian tubes in both groups. Q-PCR analysis revealed that expressions of VEGF, VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 were lower in all sections of the fallopian tubes from the case group compared to the controls. Only VEGFR2 had higher expression in the ampulla of the case group. CONCLUSION:Decreased expressions of VEGF, VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 in the EP group may have a role in the pathogenesis of embryo implantation in fallopian tubes.
Project description:Although the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)/VEGF receptor (VEGFR) system has become a prime target for antiangiogenic treatment, its biological role in glioblastoma beyond angiogenesis has remained controversial.Using neutralizing antibodies to VEGF or placental growth factor (PlGF) or the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, cediranib, or lentiviral gene silencing, we delineated autocrine signaling in glioma cell lines. The in vivo effects of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 depletion were evaluated in orthotopic glioma xenograft models.VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 modulated glioma cell clonogenicity, viability, and invasiveness in vitro in an autocrine, cell-line-specific manner. VEGFR1 silencing promoted mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) signaling, whereas VEGFR2 silencing resulted in cell-type dependent activation of the protein kinase B (PKB)/AKT and MAPK/ERK pathways. These responses may represent specific escape mechanisms from VEGFR inhibition. The survival of orthotopic glioma-bearing mice was prolonged upon VEGFR1 silencing in the LNT-229, LN-308, and U87MG models and upon VEGFR2 silencing in LN-308 and U87MG. Disruption of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 signaling was associated with decreased tumor size, increased tumor necrosis, or loss of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) immunoreactivity. Neutralizing VEGF and PlGF by specific antibodies was superior to either antibody treatment alone in the VEGFR1-dependent LNT-229 model.Differential dependence on autocrine signaling through VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 suggests a need for biomarker-stratified VEGF(R)-based therapeutic approaches to glioblastoma.
Project description:While vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in breast tumors has been correlated with a poor outcome in the pathogenesis of breast cancer, the expression, localization, and function of VEGF receptors VEGFR1 (also known as FLT1) and VEGFR2 (also known as KDR or FLK1), as well as neuropilin 1 (NRP1), in breast cancer are controversial.We investigated the expression and function of VEGF and VEGF receptors in breast cancer cells. We observed that VEGFR1 expression was abundant, VEGFR2 expression was low, and NRP1 expression was variable. MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 breast cancer cells, transfected with antisense VEGF cDNA or with siVEGF (VEGF-targeted small interfering RNA), showed a significant reduction in VEGF expression and increased apoptosis as compared to the control cells. Additionally, specifically targeted knockdown of VEGFR1 expression by siRNA (siVEGFR1) significantly decreased the survival of breast cancer cells through down-regulation of protein kinase B (AKT) phosphorylation, while targeted knockdown of VEGFR2 or NRP1 expression had no effect on the survival of these cancer cells. Since a VEGFR1-specific ligand, placenta growth factor (PGF), did not, as expected, inhibit the breast cancer cell apoptosis induced by siVEGF, and since VEGFR1 antibody also had no effects on the survival of these cells, we examined VEGFR1 localization. VEGFR1 was predominantly expressed internally in MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Specifically, VEGFR1 was found to be colocalized with lamin A/C and was expressed mainly in the nuclear envelope in breast cancer cell lines and primary breast cancer tumors. Breast cancer cells treated with siVEGFR1 showed significantly decreased VEGFR1 expression levels and a lack of VEGFR1 expression in the nuclear envelope.This study provides, to our knowledge for the first time, evidence of a unique survival system in breast cancer cells by which VEGF can act as an internal autocrine (intracrine) survival factor through its binding to VEGFR1. These results may lead to an improved strategy for tumor therapy based on the inhibition of angiogenesis.
Project description:Atherosclerotic-arterial occlusions decrease tissue perfusion causing ischemia to lower limbs in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Ischemia in muscle induces an angiogenic response, but the magnitude of this response is frequently inadequate to meet tissue perfusion requirements. Alternate splicing in the exon-8 of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A results in production of proangiogenic VEGFxxxa isoforms (VEGF165a, 165 for the 165 amino acid product) and antiangiogenic VEGFxxxb (VEGF165b) isoforms.The antiangiogenic VEGFxxxb isoforms are thought to antagonize VEGFxxxa isoforms and decrease activation of VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR2), hereunto considered the dominant receptor in postnatal angiogenesis in PAD. Our data will show that VEGF165b inhibits VEGFR1 signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-3 signaling to decrease angiogenesis in human and experimental PAD.In human PAD versus control muscle biopsies, VEGF165b: (1) is elevated, (2) is bound higher (versus VEGF165a) to VEGFR1 not VEGFR2, and (3) levels correlated with decreased VEGFR1, not VEGFR2, activation. In experimental PAD, delivery of an isoform-specific monoclonal antibody to VEGF165b versus control antibody enhanced perfusion in animal model of severe PAD (Balb/c strain) without activating VEGFR2 signaling but with increased VEGFR1 activation. Receptor pull-down experiments demonstrate that VEGF165b inhibition versus control increased VEGFR1-STAT3 binding and STAT3 activation, independent of Janus-activated kinase-1)/Janus-activated kinase-2. Using VEGFR1+/- mice that could not increase VEGFR1 after ischemia, we confirm that VEGF165b decreases VEGFR1-STAT3 signaling to decrease perfusion.Our results indicate that VEGF165b prevents activation of VEGFR1-STAT3 signaling by VEGF165a and hence inhibits angiogenesis and perfusion recovery in PAD muscle.
Project description:Increasing appreciation of tumor heterogeneity and the tumor-host interaction has stimulated interest in developing novel therapies that target both tumor cells and tumor microenvironment. Bone marrow derived cells (BMDCs) constitute important components of the tumor microenvironment. In this study, we aim to investigate the significance of VEGFR1- and VEGFR2-expressing non-tumor cells, including BMDCs, in esophageal cancer (EC) progression and in VEGFR1/VEGFR2-targeted therapies. Here we report that VEGFR1 or VEGFR2 blockade can significantly attenuate VEGF-induced Src and Erk signaling, as well as the proliferation and migration of VEGFR1? and VEGFR2? bone marrow cells and their pro-invasive effect on cancer cells. Importantly, our in vivo data show for the first time that systemic blockade of VEGFR1? or VEGFR2? non-tumor cells with neutralizing antibodies is sufficient to significantly suppress esophageal tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis in mice. Moreover, our tissue microarray study of human EC clinical specimens showed the clinicopathological significance of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 in EC, which suggest that anti-VEGFR1/VEGFR2 therapies may be particularly beneficial for patients with aggressive EC. In conclusion, this study demonstrates the important contributions of VEGFR1? and VEGFR2? non-tumor cells in esophageal cancer progression, and substantiates the validity of these receptors as therapeutic targets for this deadly disease.
Project description:Infantile hemangiomas are localized and rapidly growing regions of disorganized angiogenesis. We show that expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (VEGFR1) in hemangioma endothelial cells (hemECs) and hemangioma tissue is markedly reduced compared to controls. Low VEGFR1 expression in hemECs results in VEGF-dependent activation of VEGFR2 and downstream signaling pathways. In hemECs, transcription of the gene encoding VEGFR1 (FLT1) is dependent on nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT). Low VEGFR1 expression in hemECs is caused by reduced activity of a pathway involving beta1 integrin, the integrin-like receptor tumor endothelial marker-8 (TEM8), VEGFR2 and NFAT. In a subset of individuals with hemangioma, we found missense mutations in the genes encoding VEGFR2 (KDR) and TEM8 (ANTXR1). These mutations result in increased interactions among VEGFR2, TEM8 and beta1 integrin proteins and in inhibition of integrin activity. Normalization of the constitutive VEGFR2 signaling in hemECs with soluble VEGFR1 or antibodies that neutralize VEGF or stimulate beta1 integrin suggests that local administration of these or similar agents may be effective in hemangioma treatment.