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The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family has a key role in the formation of blood vessels and lymphatics. Among the members of this family, VEGF-C is one of the most important factors involved in lymphangiogenesis via binding with two receptors (vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 and -3: VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3). Soluble VEGFR-2 (sVEGFR-2) has a role in maintaining the alymphatic state of the cornea associated with binding to VEGF-C, and selectively inhibits lymphangiogenesis but not angiogenesis. In this study, we introduced sVEGFR-2 into lung cancer cells and evaluated the influence on tumor progression and on genes regulating lymphatic formation and metastasis in vivo. A retroviral vector was used to introduce the sVEGFR-2 gene into Lewis lung carcinoma cells (LLC), which were designated as LLC-sVEGFR-2 cells. Proteins secreted into the culture supernatant by these cells were detected by western blotting using specific antibodies. To examine lymphangiogenesis by primary lung cancer in vivo, LLC-sVEGFR-2 cells were subcutaneously injected into C57BL/6 mice. At 14days after injection, immunohistochemistry was performed using an antibody directed against lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor 1 (LYVE-1), a marker of lymphatics. Expression of mRNA for VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3 and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) was also determined by real-time PCR. Furthermore, LLC-sVEGFR-2 cells were directly inoculated into the left lung in C57BL/6 mice and the number of micro-metastases in pulmonary lymph nodes was determined. Introduction of sVEGFR-2 into LLC cells resulted in secretion of sVEGFR-2 protein into the culture supernatant. There were fewer LYVE-1 positive lymphatics after inoculation of LLC-sVEGFR-2 into mice compared with the control group. In addition, VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, and MMPs gene expression was suppressed in the primary tumors of the LLC-sVEGFR-2 group compared with the control group. Furthermore, there were fewer micro-metastases in the pulmonary lymph nodes of the LLC-sVEGFR-2 group compared with the control group after cells were directly inoculated into the lung. These findings indicate that introduction of sVEGFR-2 suppressed lymphangiogenesis in primary lung cancer and also suppressed lymphogenic metastasis by inhibiting VEGF-C, followed by down-regulation of VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3 and MMPs. Accordingly, sVEGFR-2 might be a promising target for treatment of cancer by regulating lymphangiogenesis and lymphogenic metastasis. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


Shotaro Maehana, Masaki Nakamura, Fumihiro Ogawa, Rimika Imai, Rei Murakami, Fumiaki Kojima, Masataka Majima, Hidero Kitasato. Suppression of lymphangiogenesis by soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 in a mouse lung cancer model. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie. 2016 Dec;84:660-665

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PMID: 27697638

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