Inhibition of both paracrine and autocrine VEGF/VEGFR-2 signaling pathways is essential to induce long-term remission of xenotransplanted human leukemias
Endothelial Growth Factors
Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute
Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
Receptors, Growth Factor
Antiangiogenic agents block the effects of tumor-derived angiogenic factors (paracrine factors), such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), on endothelial cells (EC), inhibiting the growth of solid tumors. However, whether inhibition of angiogenesis also may play a role in liquid tumors is not well established. We recently have shown that certain leukemias not only produce VEGF but also selectively express functional VEGF receptors (VEGFRs), such as VEGFR-2 (Flk-1, KDR) and VEGFR1 (Flt1), resulting in the generation of an autocrine loop. Here, we examined the relative contribution of paracrine (EC-dependent) and autocrine (EC-independent) VEGF/VEGFR signaling pathways, by using a human leukemia model, where autocrine and paracrine VEGF/VEGFR loops could be selectively inhibited by neutralizing mAbs specific for murine EC (paracrine pathway) or human tumor (autocrine) VEGFRs. Blocking either the paracrine or the autocrine VEGF/VEGFR-2 pathway delayed leukemic growth and engraftment in vivo, but failed to cure inoculated mice. Long-term remission with no evidence of disease was achieved only if mice were treated with mAbs against both murine and human VEGFR-2, whereas mAbs against human or murine VEGFR-1 had no effect on mice survival. Therefore, effective antiangiogenic therapies to treat VEGF-producing, VEGFR-expressing leukemias may require blocking both paracrine and autocrine VEGF/VEGFR-2 angiogenic loops to achieve remission and long-term cure.