Systemic overexpression of angiopoietin-2 promotes tumor microvessel regression and inhibits angiogenesis and tumor growth.
Angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) is a conditional antagonist and agonist for the endothelium-specific Tie-2 receptor. Although endogenous Ang-2 cooperates with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) to protect tumor endothelial cells, the effect on tumor vasculature of high levels of exogenous Ang-2 with different levels of VEGF has not been studied in detail. Here, we report that systemic overexpression of Ang-2 leads to unexpected massive tumor vessel regression within 24 h, even without concomitant inhibition of VEGF. By impairing pericyte coverage of the tumor vasculature, Ang-2 destabilizes the tumor vascular bed while improving perfusion in surviving tumor vessels. Ang-2 overexpression transiently exacerbates tumor hypoxia without affecting ATP levels. Although sustained systemic Ang-2 overexpression does not affect tumor hypoxia and proliferation, it significantly inhibits tumor angiogenesis, promotes tumor apoptosis, and suppresses tumor growth. The similar antitumoral, antiangiogenic efficacy of systemic overexpression of Ang-2, soluble VEGF receptor-1, and the combination of both suggests that concomitant VEGF inhibition is not required for Ang-2-induced tumor vessel regression and growth delay. This study shows the important roles of Ang-2-induced pericyte dropout during tumor vessel regression. It also reveals that elevated Ang-2 levels have profound pleiotropic effects on tumor vessel structure, perfusion, oxygenation, and apoptosis.
Cao, Y; Sonveaux, P; Liu, S; Zhao, Y; Mi, J; Clary, BM; Li, C-Y; Kontos, CD; Dewhirst, MW
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