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Concept: VEGF receptors

167

Purpose: Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) increases transcription of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene. Inhibition of VEGF abolishes VEGF mediated induction of HIF-1α. Recent reports suggested that HIF-1α also mediated the induction of class III β-tubulin (TUBB3) in hypoxia. TUBB3 confers resistance to taxanes. Inhibition of VEGF may decrease the expression of HIF-1α and TUBB3. This study was undertaken to investigate the roles of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) in gastric cancer cell behavior and to identify methods to overcome paclitaxel resistance in vitro. Materials and Methods: The protein expression levels of HIF-1α and TUBB3 were measured in human gastric cancer cell lines (AGS) under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. The relationship between TUBB3 and paclitaxel resistance was assessed with small interfering TUBB3 RNA. AGS cells were treated with anti-VEGFR-1, anti-VEGFR-2, placental growth factor (PlGF), bevacizuamb, and paclitaxel. Results: Hypoxia induced paclitaxel resistance was decreased by knockdown of TUBB3. Induction of HIF-1α and TUBB3 in AGS is VEGFR-1 mediated and PlGF dependent. Hypoxia-dependent upregulation of HIF-1α and TUBB3 was reduced in response to paclitaxel treatment. Expressions of HIF-1α and TUBB3 were most decreased when AGS cells were treated with a combination of paclitaxel and anti-VEGFR-1. AGS cell cytotoxicity was most increased in response to paclitaxel, anti-VEGFR-1, and anti-VEGFR-2. Conclusion: We suggest that blockade of VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 enhances paclitaxel sensitivity in TUBB3-expressing gastric cancer cells.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Lung cancer, Growth factor, VEGF receptors, Placental growth factor

149

Immunotherapy has produced durable clinical benefit in patients with metastatic renal cell cancer (RCC). In the past, patients treated with interferon-alpha (IFN) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) have achieved complete responses, many of which have lasted for multiple decades. More recently, a large number of new agents have been approved for RCC, several of which attack tumor angiogenesis by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF) and VEGF receptors (VEGFR), as well as tumor metabolism, inhibiting the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Additionally, a new class of immunotherapy agents, immune checkpoint inhibitors, is emerging and will play a significant role in the treatment of patients with RCC. Therefore, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) convened a Task Force, which met to consider the current role of approved immunotherapy agents in RCC, to provide guidance to practicing clinicians by developing consensus recommendations and to set the stage for future immunotherapeutic developments in RCC.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Angiogenesis, Vascular endothelial growth factor, Interferon, VEGF receptors, Renal cell carcinoma, Immunotherapy

27

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the most significant mediators of angiogenesis, which interacts with a specific membrane receptor: VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2). Studies elsewhere have shown that, a VEGF-blocker can regulate several vital processes of tumor promotion. However, there is no literature evidence of investigation on antiangiogenic ability of single domain 3 of VEGFR-2 (VEGFR2 D3), as the key domain in signal transduction of VEGF. In this article, we aimed at developing an efficient method for producing soluble form of this receptor as therapeutic applications. The optimization of the production of soluble VEGFR2 D3 in E. coli was firstly done by testing the periplasmic expression in different expression systems using three osmotic shock methods. To enhance the yield, vital factors were selected from nine factors by Plackett-Burman design and the level of each viral factor was optimized via a response surface methodology based central composite design. After purification and identification of the protein, the bioactivity assays: quantitative ELISA, VEGF-induced proliferation and in vivo chick chorioallantoic membrane assay were employed in our study. The outcome showed that, E.coil Rosetta-gami (DE3)/pET22b-VEGFR2 D3 was the most effective expression system. Furthermore, the inducing time, peptone and glycerol concentration affected the periplasmic expression of VEGFR2 D3 significantly. The corresponding level was also optimized. The bioactivity assay studies showed VEGFR2 D3 could suppress both VEGF stimulated cell proliferation in vitro and neovascularization in vivo. We have therefore provided a novel antiangiogenic drug candidate relating to VEGF-VEGFR2 pathway.

Concepts: Protein, Gene expression, Signal transduction, Angiogenesis, Hormone, Vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF receptors, Response surface methodology

27

Background:Currently, sunitinib represents one of the therapeutic strongholds for renal cell carcinoma, but the criteria for treatment selection are lacking. We assessed the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and VEGF receptor (VEGFR) polymorphisms in the prediction of the clinical outcome in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) patients.Methods:A total of 84 tumour samples from mRCC patients receiving first-line sunitinib were tested for VEGF and VEGFR single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The SNP results were correlated with progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).Results:Median PFS was 8.22 months, although whereas median OS was 32.13 months. The VEGF A rs833061 resulted significant in PFS (17 vs 4 months; P<0.0001) and OS (38 vs 10 months; P<0.0001). The VEGF A rs699947 was significant for PFS (18 vs 4 months; P=0.0001) and OS (37 vs 16 months; P<0.0001). The VEGF A rs2010963 was significant in PFS (18 vs 8 vs 2 months; P=0.0001) and OS (31 vs 36 vs 9 months; P=0.0045). The VEGR3 rs6877011 was significant in PFS (12 vs 4 months; P=0.0075) and OS (36 vs 17 months; P=0.0001). At multivariate analysis, rs833061, rs2010963 and rs68877011 were significant in PFS, and rs833061 and rs68877011 were independent factors in OS.Conclusions:In our analysis, patients with TT polymorphism of rs833061, CC polymorphism of rs699947, CC polymorphism of rs2010963 and CG polymorphism of rs6877011 seem to have a worse PFS and OS when receiving first-line sunitinib.

Concepts: Cancer, Angiogenesis, Vascular endothelial growth factor, Single-nucleotide polymorphism, VEGF receptors, Renal cell carcinoma, Single-base extension, Sunitinib

26

Tumors exploit angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing vasculature, in order to obtain nutrients required for continued growth and proliferation. Targeting factors that regulate angiogenesis, including the potent promoter vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is therefore an attractive strategy for inhibiting tumor growth. Computational modeling can be used to identify tumor-specific properties that influence the response to anti-angiogenic strategies. Here, we build on our previous systems biology model of VEGF transport and kinetics in tumor-bearing mice to include a tumor compartment whose volume depends on the “angiogenic signal” produced when VEGF binds to its receptors on tumor endothelial cells. We trained and validated the model using published in vivo measurements of xenograft tumor volume, producing a model that accurately predicts the tumor’s response to anti-angiogenic treatment. We applied the model to investigate how tumor growth kinetics influence the response to anti-angiogenic treatment targeting VEGF. Based on multivariate regression analysis, we found that certain intrinsic kinetic parameters that characterize the growth of tumors could successfully predict response to anti-VEGF treatment, the reduction in tumor volume. Lastly, we use the trained model to predict the response to anti-VEGF therapy for tumors expressing different levels of VEGF receptors. The model predicts that certain tumors are more sensitive to treatment than others, and the response to treatment shows a nonlinear dependence on the VEGF receptor expression. Overall, this model is a useful tool for predicting how tumors will respond to anti-VEGF treatment, and it complements pre-clinical in vivo mouse studies.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Angiogenesis, Heart, Hormone, Blood vessel, Vascular endothelial growth factor, Endothelium, VEGF receptors

12

Glioblastomas (GBMs) rapidly become refractory to anti-VEGF therapies. We previously demonstrated that ectopic overexpression of angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) compromises the benefits of anti-VEGF receptor (VEGFR) treatment in murine GBM models and that circulating Ang-2 levels in GBM patients rebound after an initial decrease following cediranib (a pan-VEGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor) administration. Here we tested whether dual inhibition of VEGFR/Ang-2 could improve survival in two orthotopic models of GBM, Gl261 and U87. Dual therapy using cediranib and MEDI3617 (an anti-Ang-2-neutralizing antibody) improved survival over each therapy alone by delaying Gl261 growth and increasing U87 necrosis, effectively reducing viable tumor burden. Consistent with their vascular-modulating function, the dual therapies enhanced morphological normalization of vessels. Dual therapy also led to changes in tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). Inhibition of TAM recruitment using an anti-colony-stimulating factor-1 antibody compromised the survival benefit of dual therapy. Thus, dual inhibition of VEGFR/Ang-2 prolongs survival in preclinical GBM models by reducing tumor burden, improving normalization, and altering TAMs. This approach may represent a potential therapeutic strategy to overcome the limitations of anti-VEGFR monotherapy in GBM patients by integrating the complementary effects of anti-Ang2 treatment on vessels and immune cells.

Concepts: Immune system, Better, Improve, Signal transduction, Therapy, Classification of Pharmaco-Therapeutic Referrals, Glioblastoma multiforme, VEGF receptors

11

Nearly all studies of angiogenesis have focused on uni-family ligand-receptor binding, e.g., VEGFs bind to VEGF receptors, PDGFs bind to PDGF receptors, etc. The discovery of VEGF-PDGFRs binding challenges this paradigm and calls for investigation of other ligand-receptor binding possibilities. We utilized surface plasmon resonance to identify and measure PDGF-to-VEGFR binding rates, establishing cut-offs for binding and non-binding interactions. We quantified the kinetics of the recent VEGF-A:PDGFRβ interaction for the first time with KD = 340 pM. We discovered new PDGF:VEGFR2 interactions with PDGF-AA:R2 KD = 530 nM, PDGF-AB:R2 KD = 110 pM, PDGF-BB:R2 KD = 40 nM, and PDGF-CC:R2 KD = 70 pM. We computationally predict that cross-family PDGF binding could contribute up to 96% of VEGFR2 ligation in healthy conditions and in cancer. Together the identification, quantification, and simulation of these novel cross-family interactions posits new mechanisms for understanding anti-angiogenic drug resistance and presents an expanded role of growth factor signaling with significance in health and disease.

Concepts: Angiogenesis, Surface plasmon resonance, VEGF receptors

10

Cancer pain is a debilitating disorder and a primary determinant of the poor quality of life. Here, we report a non-vascular role for ligands of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) family in cancer pain. Tumor-derived VEGF-A, PLGF-2, and VEGF-B augment pain sensitivity through selective activation of VEGF receptor 1 (VEGFR1) expressed in sensory neurons in human cancer and mouse models. Sensory-neuron-specific genetic deletion/silencing or local or systemic blockade of VEGFR1 prevented tumor-induced nerve remodeling and attenuated cancer pain in diverse mouse models in vivo. These findings identify a therapeutic potential for VEGFR1-modifying drugs in cancer pain and suggest a palliative effect for VEGF/VEGFR1-targeting anti-angiogenic tumor therapies.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Oncology, Angiogenesis, Vascular endothelial growth factor, Sensory system, VEGF receptors, Sensory neuron

4

Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) is a primary benign disease, which is characterized by papillomatous growth in the respiratory tract. Malignant transformation occurs in only 3-5% of cases, however, local growth of the benign papillomas is interpreted as clinically malignant in a markedly higher proportion of patients. Local surgical or endoscopic interventional debulking or excision is currently the commonly selected treatment method and antiviral therapy is a potential adjuvant approach. However, the long-term management of RRP patients, who commonly require multiple procedures over numerous years, is challenging and the overall therapeutic armamentarium remains unsatisfactory. The administration of systemic bevacizumab treatment in a series of five patients with long histories of RRP, who required repeated local interventions to control papilloma growth is evaluated. Treatment with the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antibody bevacizumab was administered at a dose of 5 mg/kg (n=1), 10 mg/kg (n=3) or 15 mg/kg (n=1) intravenously to the five RRP patients, who were clinically classified as exhibiting progressive disease. Endoscopic evaluations were performed prior to the first infusion of bevacizumab and intermittently at variable time points during the course of therapy. Histopathological analyses were performed using pre- and post-treatment papilloma biopsies, including immunohistochemical analyses of VEGF and phosphorylated VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-2 expression. The patients received between three and 16 courses of bevacizumab (median, six courses). The first course was initiated when progression following the previous intervention was observed. An immediate response to bevacizumab treatment was demonstrated in all five RRP patients. While the cumulative number of interventions in the five patients was 18 throughout the 12 months prior to the initiation of bevacizumab treatment, only one patient required interventional treatment due to a malignant transformation during the 12 months following treatment with bevacizumab (18 vs. 1 interventions, P=0.042). Histopathological analyses revealed regressive perivascular edema and normalization of the vascular structure, however, immunohistochemical analyses of the VEGF and phosphorylated VEGFR-2 expression did not demonstrate any changes following therapy. Due to the limited number of alternative treatments, VEGF-targeted therapies may represent a promising novel strategy in the treatment of RRP, which may have the potential to modify the current treatment standards, particularly in patients with poorly accessible papilloma lesions, however, this requires further investigation in clinical trials.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Human papillomavirus, Vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF receptors, Laryngeal papillomatosis, Papilloma

3

Vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) is a key mediator of angiogenesis, signalling via the class IV tyrosine kinase receptor family of VEGF Receptors (VEGFRs). Although VEGF-A ligands bind to both VEGFR1 and VEGFR2, they primarily signal via VEGFR2 leading to endothelial cell proliferation, survival, migration and vascular permeability. Distinct VEGF-A isoforms result from alternative splicing of the Vegfa gene at exon 8, resulting in VEGFxxxa or VEGFxxxb isoforms. Alternative splicing events at exons 5⁻7, in addition to recently identified posttranslational read-through events, produce VEGF-A isoforms that differ in their bioavailability and interaction with the co-receptor Neuropilin-1. This review explores the molecular pharmacology of VEGF-A isoforms at VEGFR2 in respect to ligand binding and downstream signalling. To understand how VEGF-A isoforms have distinct signalling despite similar affinities for VEGFR2, this review re-evaluates the typical classification of these isoforms relative to the prototypical, “pro-angiogenic” VEGF165a. We also examine the molecular mechanisms underpinning the regulation of VEGF-A isoform signalling and the importance of interactions with other membrane and extracellular matrix proteins. As approved therapeutics targeting the VEGF-A/VEGFR signalling axis largely lack long-term efficacy, understanding these isoform-specific mechanisms could aid future drug discovery efforts targeting VEGF receptor pharmacology.

Concepts: Proteins, Signal transduction, Extracellular matrix, Angiogenesis, Vascular endothelial growth factor, Receptor tyrosine kinase, VEGF receptors, Alternative splicing