Up-Regulation of Bcl-2 in microvascular endothelial cells enhances intratumoral angiogenesis and accelerates tumor growth


Nör JE, Christensen J, Liu J, Peters M, Mooney DJ, Strieter RM, Polverini PJ. Up-Regulation of Bcl-2 in microvascular endothelial cells enhances intratumoral angiogenesis and accelerates tumor growth. Cancer Res. 2001;61 (5) :2183-8.

Date Published:

2001 Mar 01


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been shown to be a potent mediator of angiogenesis that functions as a survival factor for endothelial cells by up-regulating Bcl-2 expression. We have recently reported that human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMECs) seeded in biodegradable sponges and implanted into severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice organize into functional human microvessels that transport mouse blood cells. In this study, we implanted sponges seeded with OSCC-3 (oral squamous cell carcinoma) or SLK (Kaposi's sarcoma) together with endothelial cells into SCID mice to generate human tumors vascularized with human microvessels. This model system was used to examine the role of both endothelial cell Bcl-2 and the proangiogenic chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8) on tumor growth and intratumoral microvascular density. Coimplantation of HDMECs overexpressing Bcl-2 (HDMEC-Bcl-2) and tumor cells resulted in a 3-fold enhancement of tumor growth when compared with the coimplantation of control HDMECs and tumor cells. This was associated with increased intratumoral microvascular density and enhanced endothelial cell survival. To determine whether the enhanced neovascularization mediated by Bcl-2 overexpression in endothelial cells was influenced by the synthesis of endogenous mediators of angiogenesis, we screened these cells for expression of VEGF, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and IL-8 by ELISA. HDMEC-Bcl-2 cells and VEGF-treated HDMECs exhibited a 15-fold and 4-fold increase, respectively, in the expression of the proangiogenic chemokine IL-8 in vitro, whereas the expression of VEGF and bFGF remained unchanged. Transfection of antisense Bcl-2 into HDMECs blocked VEGF-mediated induction of IL-8. Conditioned media from HDMEC-Bcl-2 induced proliferation and sprouting of endothelial cells in vitro and neovascularization in rat corneas. Anti-IL-8 antibody added to HDMEC-Bcl-2 conditioned media markedly reduced the potency of these responses. SCID mice bearing VEGF-producing tumor implants that were treated with anti-lL-8 antibody exhibited a 43% reduction in microvessel density and a 50% reduction in tumor weight compared with treatment with a nonspecific antibody. These results demonstrate that the up-regulation of Bcl-2 expression in endothelial cells that constitute tumor microvessels enhances intratumoral microvascular survival and density and accelerates tumor growth. Furthermore, endothelial cells that overexpress Bcl-2 have more angiogenic potential than control cells, and IL-8-neutralizing antibodies attenuate their angiogenic activity in vitro and in vivo.
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