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1.  Anti-CXCL5 therapy ameliorates IL-17-induced arthritis by decreasing joint vascularization 
Angiogenesis  2011;14(4):443-455.
IL-17-induced joint inflammation is associated with increased angiogenesis. However, the mechanism by which IL-17 mediates angiogenesis is undefined. Therefore, the pathologic role of CXCL1 and CXCL5 was investigated in arthritis mediated by local expression of IL-17, employing a neutralizing antibody to each chemokine. Next, endothelial chemotaxis was utilized to examine whether endothelial migration was differentially mediated by CXCL1 and CXCL5. Our results demonstrate that IL-17-mediated disease activity was not affected by anti-CXCL1 treatment alone. In contrast, mice receiving anti-CXCL5 demonstrated significantly reduced clinical signs of arthritis, compared to the mice treated with IgG control. Consistently, while inflammation, synovial lining thickness, bone erosion and vascularization were markedly reduced in both the anti-CXCL5 and combination anti-CXCL1 and 5 treatment groups, mice receiving anti-CXCL1 antibody had clinical scores similar to the control group. In contrast to joint FGF2 and VEGF levels, TNF-α was significantly reduced in mice receiving anti-CXCL5 or combination of anti-CXCL1 and 5 therapies compared to the control group. We found that, like IL-17, CXCL1-induced endothelial migration is mediated through activation of PI3K. In contrast, activation of NF-κB pathway was essential for endothelial chemotaxis induced by CXCL5. Although CXCL1 and CXCL5 can differentially mediate endothelial trafficking, blockade of CXCR2 can inhibit endothelial chemotaxis mediated by either of these chemokines. These results suggest that blockade of CXCL5 can modulate IL-17-induced inflammation in part by reducing joint blood vessel formation through a non-overlapping IL-17 mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4281892  PMID: 21779896
IL-17-induced arthritis; CXCL1; CXCL5; Angiogenesis
2.  Proangiogenic microtemplated fibrin scaffolds containing aprotinin promote improved wound healing responses 
Angiogenesis  2013;17(1):195-205.
Survival of tissue engineered constructs after implantation depends heavily on induction of a vascular response in host tissue, promoting a quick anastomosis of the cellular graft. Additionally, implanted constructs typically induce fibrous capsule formation, effectively preventing graft integration with host tissue. Previously we described the development of a high density microtemplated fibrin scaffold for cardiac tissue engineering applications with tunable degradation and mechanical properties which promoted seeded cell survival and organization in vitro (1). Scaffold degradation in vitro was controllable by addition of the serine protease inhibitor aprotinin and/or the fibrin cross-linker Factor XIII (FXIII). The goal of this study was to assess host tissue responses to these fibrin scaffold formulations by determining effects on scaffold degradation, angiogenic responses, and fibrous capsule formation in a subcutaneous implant model. Aprotinin significantly decreased scaffold degradation over 2 weeks of implantation. A significant increase in capillary infiltration of aprotinin implants was found after 1 and 2 weeks, with a significantly greater amount of capillaries reaching the interior of aprotinin scaffolds. Interestingly, after 2 weeks the aprotinin scaffolds had a significantly thinner, yet apparently more cellular fibrous capsule than unmodified scaffolds. These results indicate aprotinin not only inhibits fibrin scaffold degradation, but also induces significant responses in the host tissue. These included an angiogenic response resulting in increased vascularization of the scaffold material over a relatively short period of time. In addition, aprotinin release from scaffolds may reduce fibrous capsule formation, which could help promote improved integration of cell-seeded scaffolds with host tissue.
PMCID: PMC3888647  PMID: 24127199
3.  The Semaphorin 4D- Plexin-B1- RhoA signaling axis recruits pericytes and regulates vascular permeability through endothelial production of PDGF-B and ANGPTL4 
Angiogenesis  2013;17(1):261-274.
Semaphorin 4D (SEMA4D) is a member of a family of transmembrane and secreted proteins that have been shown to act through its receptor Plexin-B1 to regulate axon growth cone guidance, lymphocyte activation, and bone density. SEMA4D is also overexpressed by some malignancies and plays a role in tumor-induced angiogenesis similar to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein that has been targeted as part of some cancer therapies. In an attempt to examine the different effects on tumor growth and vascularity for these two pro-angiogenic factors, we previously noted that while inhibition of both VEGF and SEMA4D restricted tumor vascularity and size, vessels forming under conditions of VEGF blockade retained their association with pericytes while those arising in a background of SEMA4D/ Plexin-B1 deficiency did not, an intriguing finding considering that alteration in pericyte association with endothelial cells is an emerging aspect of anti-angiogenic intervention in the treatment of cancer. Here we show through array analysis, immunoblots, migration and co-culture assays and VE-cadherin immunohistochemistry that SEMA4D production by head and neck carcinoma tumor cells induces expression of platelet-derived growth factor-B (PDGF-B) and angiopoietin-like protein 4 (ANGPTL4) from endothelial cells in a Plexin-B1/ Rho-dependent manner, thereby influencing proliferation and differentiation of pericytes and vascular permeability, whereas VEGF lacks these effects. These results partly explain the differences observed between SEMA4D and VEGF in pathological angiogenesis and suggest that targeting SEMA4D function along with VEGF could represent a novel anti-angiogenic therapeutic strategy for the treatment of solid tumors.
PMCID: PMC3947343  PMID: 24114199
Semaphorin 4D; Plexin-B1; RhoA; Platelet-derived growth factor-B; Angiopoietin-like protein 4; Angiogenesis
4.  Characterization of Early Neovascular Response to Acute Lung Ischemia using Simultaneous 19F/1H MR Molecular Imaging 
Angiogenesis  2013;17(1):51-60.
Angiogenesis is an important constituent of many inflammatory pulmonary diseases, which has been unappreciated until recently. Early neovascular expansion in the lungs in preclinical models and patients is very difficult to assess noninvasively, particularly quantitatively. The present study demonstrated that 19F/1H MR molecular imaging with αvβ3-targeted perfluorocarbon nanoparticles can be used to directly measure neovascularity in a rat left pulmonary artery ligation (LPAL) model, which was employed to create pulmonary ischemia and induce angiogenesis. In rats 3 days after LPAL, simultaneous 19F/1H MR imaging at 3T revealed a marked 19F signal in animals 2 hours following αvβ3-targeted perfluorocarbon nanoparticles (19F signal (normalized to background)=0.80±0.2) that was greater (p=0.007) than the non-targeted (0.30±0.04) and the sham-operated (0.07±0.09) control groups. Almost no 19F signal was found in control right lung with any treatment. Competitive blockade of the integrin-targeted particles greatly decreased the 19F signal (p=0.002) and was equivalent to the non-targeted control group. Fluorescent and light microscopy illustrated heavy decorating of vessel walls in and around large bronchi and large pulmonary vessels. Focal segmental regions of neovessel expansion were also noted in the lung periphery. Our results demonstrate that 19F/1H MR molecular imaging with αvβ3-targeted perfluorocarbon nanoparticles provides a means to assess the extent of systemic neovascularization in the lung.
PMCID: PMC3947345  PMID: 23918207
MRI; angiogenesis; molecular imaging; fluorine; lung; nanotechnology
5.  The carboxyl terminus of VEGF-A is a potential target for anti-angiogenic therapy 
Angiogenesis  2014;18:23-30.
Anti-VEGF-A therapy has become a mainstay of treatment for ocular neovascularisation and in cancer; however, their effectiveness is not universal, in some cases only benefiting a minority of patients. Anti-VEGF-A therapies bind and block both pro-angiogenic VEGF-Axxx and the partial agonist VEGF-Axxxb isoforms, but their anti-angiogenic benefit only comes about from targeting the pro-angiogenic isoforms. Therefore, antibodies that exclusively target the pro-angiogenic isoforms may be more effective. To determine whether C-terminal-targeted antibodies could inhibit angiogenesis, we generated a polyclonal antibody to the last nine amino acids of VEGF-A165 and tested it in vitro and in vivo. The exon8a polyclonal antibody (Exon8apab) did not bind VEGF-A165b even at greater than 100-fold excess concentration, and dose dependently inhibited VEGF-A165 induced endothelial migration in vitro at concentrations similar to the VEGF-A antibody fragment ranibizumab. Exon8apab can inhibit tumour growth of LS174t cells implanted in vivo and blood vessel growth in the eye in models of age-related macular degeneration, with equal efficacy to non-selective anti-VEGF-A antibodies. It also showed that it was the VEGF-Axxx levels specifically that were upregulated in plasma from patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. These results suggest that VEGF-A165-specific antibodies can be therapeutically useful.
PMCID: PMC4280485  PMID: 25274272
VEGF; Splicing; Bevacizumab; VEGF-A165b
6.  Human vasculogenic cells form functional blood vessels and mitigate adverse remodeling after ischemia reperfusion injury in rats 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(4):773-784.
Cell-based therapies to restore heart function after infarction have been tested in pre-clinical models and clinical trials with mixed results, and will likely require both contractile cells and a vascular network to support them. We and others have shown that human endothelial colony forming cells (ECFC) combined with mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPC) can be used to “bio-engineer” functional human blood vessels. Here we investigated whether ECFC + MPC form functional vessels in ischemic myocardium and whether this affects cardiac function or remodeling. Myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI) was induced in 12-week-old immunodeficient rats by ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery. After 40 min, myocardium was reperfused and ECFC + MPC (2 × 106 cells, 2:3 ratio) or PBS was injected. Luciferase assays after injection of luciferase-labeled ECFC + MPC showed that 1,500 ECFC were present at day 14. Human ECFC-lined perfused vessels were directly visualized by femoral vein injection of a fluorescently-tagged human-specific lectin in hearts injected with ECFC + MPC but not PBS alone. While infarct size at day 1 was no different, LV dimensions and heart weight to tibia length ratios were lower in cell-treated hearts compared with PBS at 4 months, suggesting post-infarction remodeling was ameliorated by local cell injection. Fractional shortening, LV wall motion score, and fibrotic area were not different between groups at 4 months. However, pressure–volume loops demonstrated improved cardiac function and reduced volumes in cell-treated animals. These data suggest that myocardial delivery of ECFC + MPC at reperfusion may provide a therapeutic strategy to mitigate LV remodeling and cardiac dysfunction after IRI.
PMCID: PMC3773287  PMID: 23666122
Ischemic myocardium; ECFC; MPC; Angiogenesis; Cardiac function
7.  Sprouty4 regulates endothelial cell migration via modulating Integrin β3 stability through c-Src 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(4):861-875.
Angiogenesis is mediated by signaling through receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), Src family kinases and adhesion receptors such as integrins, yet the mechanism how these signaling pathways regulate one another remains incompletely understood. The RTK modulator, Sprouty4 (Spry4) inhibits endothelial cell functions and angiogenesis, but the mechanisms remain to be fully elucidated. In this study, we demonstrate that Spry4 regulates angiogenesis in part by regulating endothelial cell migration. Overexpression of Spry4 in human endothelial cells inhibited migration and adhesion on vitronectin (VTN), whereas knockdown of Spry4 enhanced these behaviors. These activities were shown to be c-Src-dependent and Ras-independent. Spry4 disrupted the crosstalk between vascular endothelial growth factor-2 and integrin αVβ3, the receptor for VTN. Spry4 overexpression resulted in decreased integrin β3 protein levels in a post-transcriptional manner in part by modulating its tyrosine phosphorylation by c-Src. Conversely, knockdown of Spry4 resulted in increased integrin β3 protein levels and tyrosine phosphorylation. Moreover, in vivo analysis revealed that Spry4 regulated integrin β3 levels in murine embryos and yolk sacs. Our findings identify an unanticipated role for Spry4 in regulating c-Src activity and integrin β3 protein levels, which contributes to the regulation of migration and adhesion of endothelial cells. Thus, targeting Spry4 may be exploited as a target in anti-angiogenesis therapies.
PMCID: PMC3790316  PMID: 23955631
Sprouty; c-Src; integrins; angiogenesis; endothelial cell migration
8.  Endothelial FoxO1 is an intrinsic regulator of thrombospondin 1 expression that restrains angiogenesis in ischemic muscle 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(4):10.1007/s10456-013-9353-x.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is characterized by chronic muscle ischemia. Compensatory angiogenesis is minimal within ischemic muscle despite an increase in angiogenic factors. This may occur due to the prevalence of angiostatic factors. Regulatory mechanisms that could evoke an angiostatic environment during ischemia are largely unknown. Forkhead box O (FoxO) transcription factors, known to repress endothelial cell proliferation in vitro, are potential candidates. Our goal was to determine whether FoxO proteins promote an angiostatic phenotype within ischemic muscle. FoxO1 and the angiostatic matrix protein thrombospondin 1 (THBS1) were elevated in ischemic muscle from PAD patients, or from mice post-femoral artery ligation. Mice with conditional endothelial cell-directed deletion of FoxO proteins (Mx1Cre+, FoxO1,3,4L/L, referred to as FoxOΔ) were used to assess the role of endothelial FoxO proteins within ischemic tissue. FoxO deletion abrogated the elevation of FoxO1 and THBS1 proteins, enhanced hindlimb blood flow recovery and improved neovascularization in murine ischemic muscle. Endothelial cell outgrowth from 3D explant cultures was more robust in muscles derived from FoxOΔ mice. FoxO1 overexpression induced THBS1 production, and a direct interaction of endogenous FoxO1 with the THBS1 promoter was detectable in primary endothelial cells. We provide evidence that FoxO1 directly regulates THBS1 within ischemic muscle. Altogether, these findings bring novel insight into the regulatory mechanisms underlying the repression of angiogenesis within peripheral ischemic tissues.
PMCID: PMC3822003  PMID: 23677673
Endothelium; Ischemia; Angiogenesis; Peripheral artery disease; Skeletal muscle; Capillary
9.  Human white adipose tissue vasculature contains endothelial colony-forming cells with robust in vivo vasculogenic potential 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(4):735-744.
Blood-derived endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) have robust vasculogenic potential that can be exploited to bioengineer long-lasting human vascular networks in vivo. However, circulating ECFCs are exceedingly rare in adult peripheral blood. Because the mechanism by which ECFCs are mobilized into circulation is currently unknown, the reliability of peripheral blood as a clinical source of ECFCs remains a concern. Thus, there is a need to find alternative sources of autologous ECFCs. Here we aimed to determine whether ECFCs reside in the vasculature of human white adipose tissue (WAT) and to evaluate if WAT-derived ECFCs (watECFCs) have equal clinical potential to blood-derived ECFCs. We isolated the complete endothelial cell (EC) population from intact biopsies of normal human subcutaneous WAT by enzymatic digestion and selection of CD31+ cells. Subsequently, we extensively compared WAT-derived EC phenotype and functionality to bonafide ECFCs derived from both umbilical cord blood and adult peripheral blood. We demonstrated that human WAT is indeed a dependable source of ECFCs with indistinguishable properties to adult peripheral blood ECFCs, including hierarchical clonogenic ability, large expansion potential, stable endothelial phenotype, and robust in vivo blood vessel-forming capacity. Considering the unreliability and low rate of occurrence of ECFCs in adult blood and that biopsies of WAT can be obtained with minimal intervention in an ambulatory setting, our results indicate WAT as a more practical alternative to obtain large amounts of readily available autologous ECFCs for future vascular cell therapies.
PMCID: PMC3762916  PMID: 23636611
endothelial colony-forming cells; endothelial progenitor cells; adipose tissue; peripheral blood; vasculogenesis
10.  GATA2 and Lmo2 control angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis via direct transcriptional regulation of neuropilin-2 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(4):939-952.
GATA-binding protein 2 (GATA2) and LIM domain only 2 (Lmo2) form common transcription complexes during hematopoietic differentiation. Here we show that these two transcription factors also play a key role in endothelial cells (EC) and lymphatic EC (LEC) function. Primary EC and tumor-associated blood vessels expressed GATA2 and Lmo2. VEGF-induced sprouting angiogenesis in both differentiating embryonic stem cells (embryoid bodies) and primary EC increased GATA2 and Lmo2 levels. Conversely, silencing of GATA2 and Lmo2 expression in primary EC inhibited VEGF-induced angiogenic activity, including EC migration and sprouting in vitro, two key steps of angiogenesis in vivo. This inhibition of EC function was associated with downregulated expression of neuropilin-2 (NRP2), a co-receptor for VEGF, at the protein, mRNA and promoter levels. NRP2 overexpression partially rescued the impaired angiogenic sprouting in the GATA2/Lmo2 knockdown EC, confirming that GATA2 and Lmo2 mediated EC function, at least in part, by directly regulating NRP2 gene expression. Furthermore, it was found that primary LEC expressed GATA2 and Lmo2 as well. Silencing of GATA2 and Lmo2 expression in LEC inhibited VEGF-induced LEC sprouting, also in a NRP2-dependent manner. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that GATA2 and Lmo2 cooperatively regulate VEGF-induced angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis via NRP2.
PMCID: PMC3793839  PMID: 23892628
GATA2; Lmo2; Neuropilin-2; Transcriptional Regulation; Angiogenesis; Lymphangiogenesis
11.  Interleukin-8 Can Reduce Post-Surgical Lymphedema Formation by Promoting Lymphatic Vessel Regeneration 
Angiogenesis  2012;16(1):29-44.
Lymphedema is mainly caused by lymphatic obstruction and manifested as tissue swelling, often in the arms and legs. Lymphedema is one of the most common post-surgical complications in breast cancer patients and presents a painful and disfiguring chronic illness that has few treatment options. Here, we evaluated the therapeutic potential of interleukin (IL)-8 in lymphatic regeneration independent of its pro-inflammatory activity. We found that IL-8 promoted proliferation, tube formation, and migration of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) without activating the VEGF signaling. Additionally, IL-8 suppressed the major cell cycle inhibitor CDKN1C/p57KIP2 by downregulating its positive regulator PROX1, which is known as the master regulator of LEC-differentiation. Animal-based studies such as matrigel plug and cornea micropocket assays demonstrated potent efficacy of IL-8 in activating lymphangiogenesis in vivo. Moreover, we have generated a novel transgenic mouse model (K14-hIL8) that expresses human IL-8 in the skin and then crossed with lymphatic-specific fluorescent (Prox1-GFP) mouse. The resulting double transgenic mice showed that a stable expression of IL-8 could promote embryonic lymphangiogenesis. Moreover, an immunodeficient IL-8-expressing mouse line that was established by crossing K14-hIL8 mice with athymic nude mice displayed an enhanced tumor-associated lymphangiogenesis. Finally, when experimental lymphedema was introduced, K14-hIL8 mice showed an improved amelioration of lymphedema with an increased lymphatic regeneration. Together, we report that IL-8 can activate lymphangiogenesis in vitro and in vivo with a therapeutic efficacy in post-surgical lymphedema.
PMCID: PMC4166493  PMID: 22945845
12.  Periodicity in tumor vasculature targeting kinetics of ligand-functionalized nanoparticles studied by dynamic contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging and intravital microscopy 
Angiogenesis  2013;17(1):93-107.
In the past two decades advances in the development of targeted nanoparticles have facilitated their application as molecular imaging agents and targeted drug delivery vehicles. Nanoparticle-enhanced molecular imaging of the angiogenic tumor vasculature has been of particular interest. Not only because angiogenesis plays an important role in various pathologies, but also since endothelial cell surface receptors are directly accessible for relatively large circulating nanoparticles. Typically, nanoparticle targeting towards these receptors is studied by analyzing the contrast distribution on tumor images acquired before and at set time points after administration. Although several exciting proof-of-concept studies demonstrated qualitative assessment of relative target concentration and distribution, these studies did not provide quantitative information on the nanoparticle targeting kinetics. These kinetics will not only depend on nanoparticle characteristics, but also on receptor binding and recycling. In this study, we monitored the in vivo targeting kinetics of αvβ3-integrin specific nanoparticles with intravital microscopy and dynamic contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging, and using compartment modeling we were able to quantify nanoparticle targeting rates. As such, this approach can facilitate optimization of targeted nanoparticle design and it holds promise for providing more quantitative information on in vivo receptor levels. Interestingly, we also observed a periodicity in the accumulation kinetics of αvβ3-integrin targeted nanoparticles and hypothesize that this periodicity is caused by receptor binding, internalization and recycling dynamics. Taken together, this demonstrates that our experimental approach provides new insights in in vivo nanoparticle targeting, which may proof useful for vascular targeting in general.
PMCID: PMC4134264  PMID: 23982332
DCE-MRI; Intravital microscopy; Targeted nanoparticles; Targeting kinetics; Vascular targeting
13.  Human Proangiogenic Circulating Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells Promote Tumor Growth in an Orthotopic Melanoma Xenograft Model 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(4):953-962.
We previously identified a distinct population of human circulating hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (CHSPCs; CD14-glyA-CD34+AC133+/-CD45dimCD31+ cells) in the peripheral blood (PB) and bone marrow, and their frequency in the PB can correlate with disease state. The proangiogenic subset (pCHSPC) play a role in regulating tumor progression, for we previously demonstrated a statistically significant increase in C32 melanoma growth in NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid (NOD/SCID) injected with human pCHSPCs (p<0.001). We now provide further evidence that pCHSPCs possess proangiogenic properties. In vitro bio-plex cytokine analyses and tube forming assays indicate that pCHSPCs secrete a proangiogenic profile and promote vessel formation respectively. We also developed a humanized bone marrow-melanoma orthotopic model to explore in vivo the biological significance of the pCHSPC population. Growth of melanoma xenografts increased more rapidly at 3-4 weeks post-tumor implantation in mice previously transplanted with human CD34+ cells compared to control mice. Increases in pCHSPCs in PB correlated with increases in tumor growth. Additionally, to determine if we could prevent the appearance of pCHSPCs in the PB, mice with humanized bone marrow-melanoma xenografts were administered Interferon α-2b, which is used clinically for treatment of melanoma. The mobilization of the pCHSPCs was decreased in the mice with the humanized bone marrow-melanoma xenografts. Taken together, these data indicate that pCHSPCs play a functional role in tumor growth. The novel in vivo model described here can be utilized to further validate pCHSPCs as a biomarker of tumor progression. The model can also be used to screen and optimize anticancer/anti-angiogenic therapies in a humanized system.
PMCID: PMC4128550  PMID: 23877751
proangiogenic; circulating hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells; biomarker; tumor growth
15.  The albino mutation of tyrosinase alters ocular angiogenic responsiveness 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(3):639-646.
We have observed substantial differences in angiogenic responsiveness in mice and have mapped the genetic loci responsible for these differences. We have found that the albino mutation is one of the loci responsible for such differences. Using B6.A consomic strains, we determined that chromosome 7 bears a locus that inhibits VEGF-induced corneal neovascularization. F2 crosses between B6.A consomic mice and C57BL/6J parents along with AXB and BXA recombinant inbred strains demonstrated highest linkage near the tyrosinase gene. This region was named AngVq4. Congenic animals confirmed this locus, but could not demonstrate that the classical tyrosinase albino (c) mutation was causative because of the existence of additional linked loci in the congenic region. However, in 1970, a second tyrosinase albino mutation (c-2J) arose in the C57BL/6J background at Jackson Labs. Testing this strain (C57BL/6J) demonstrated that the albino mutation is sufficient to completely explain the alteration in angiogenic response that we observed in congenic animals. Thus, we conclude that the classical tyrosinase mutation is responsible for AngVq4. In contrast to the cornea, where pigmented animals exhibit increased angiogenic responsiveness, iris neovascularization was inhibited in pigmented animals. These results may partially explain increased aggressiveness in amelanotic melanoma, as well as ethnic differences in diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
PMCID: PMC3683361  PMID: 23423728
16.  Imaging tumor angiogenesis in breast cancer experimental lung metastasis with positron emission tomography, near-infrared fluorescence, and bioluminescence 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(3):663-674.
The goal of this study was to develop a molecular imaging agent that can allow for both positron emission tomography (PET) and near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging of CD105 expression in metastatic breast cancer. TRC105, a chimeric anti-CD105 monoclonal antibody, was labeled with both a NIRF dye (i.e., IRDye 800CW) and 64Cu to yield 64Cu-NOTA-TRC105-800CW. Flow cytometry analysis revealed no difference in CD105 binding affinity/specificity between TRC105 and NOTA-TRC105-800CW. Serial bioluminescence imaging (BLI) was carried out to non-invasively monitor the lung tumor burden in BALB/c mice, after intravenous injection of firefly luciferase-transfected 4T1 (i.e., fLuc-4T1) murine breast cancer cells to establish the experimental lung metastasis model. Serial PET imaging revealed that fLuc-4T1 lung tumor uptake of 64Cu-NOTA-TRC105-800CW was 11.9 ± 1.2, 13.9 ± 3.9, and 13.4 ± 2.1 %ID/g at 4, 24, and 48 h post-injection respectively (n = 3). Biodistribution studies, blocking fLuc-4T1 lung tumor uptake with excess TRC105, control experiments with 64Cu-NOTA-cetuximab-800CW (which served as an isotype-matched control), ex vivo BLI/PET/NIRF imaging, autoradiography, and histology all confirmed CD105 specificity of 64Cu-NOTA-TRC105-800CW. Successful PET/NIRF imaging of tumor angiogenesis (i.e., CD105 expression) in the breast cancer experimental lung metastasis model warrants further investigation and clinical translation of dual-labeled TRC105-based agents, which can potentially enable early detection of small metastases and image-guided surgery for tumor removal.
PMCID: PMC3706271  PMID: 23471463
Breast cancer; Tumor angiogenesis; Lung metastasis; Positron emission tomography (PET); Near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF); CD105/endoglin; ImmunoPET; Image-guided surgery
17.  Non-invasive dynamic near-infrared imaging and quantification of vascular leakage in vivo 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(3):525-540.
Preclinical vascular research has been hindered by a lack of methods that can sensitively image and quantify vascular perfusion and leakage in vivo. In this study, we have developed dynamic near-infrared imaging methods to repeatedly visualize and quantify vascular leakage in mouse skin in vivo, and we have applied these methods to transgenic mice with overexpression of vascular endothelial growth factors VEGF-A or -C. Near-infrared dye conjugates were developed to identify a suitable vascular tracer that had a prolonged circulation lifetime and slow leakage into normal tissue after intravenous injection. Dynamic simultaneous imaging of ear skin and a large blood vessel in the leg enabled determination of the intravascular signal (blood volume fraction) from the tissue signal shortly after injection and quantifications of vascular leakage into the extravascular tissue over time. This method allowed for the sensitive detection of increased blood vascularity and leakage rates in K14-VEGF-A transgenic mice and also reliably measured inflammation-induced changes of vascularity and leakage over time in the same mice. Measurements after injection of recombinant VEGF-A surprisingly revealed increased blood vascular leakage and lymphatic clearance in K14-VEGF-C transgenic mice which have an expanded cutaneous lymphatic vessel network, potentially indicating unanticipated effects of lymphatic drainage on vascular leakage. Increased vascular leakage was also detected in subcutaneous tumors, confirming that the method can also be applied to deeper tissues. This new imaging method might facilitate longitudinal investigations of the in vivo effects of drug candidates, including angiogenesis inhibitors, in preclinical disease models.
PMCID: PMC3713856  PMID: 23325334
Vascular permeability; Inflammation; Imaging; VEGF-A; VEGF-C
18.  Vascular adaptation to a dysfunctional endothelium as a consequence of Shb deficiency 
Angiogenesis  2012;15(3):469-480.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A regulates angiogenesis, vascular morphology and permeability by signaling through its receptor VEGFR-2. The Shb adapter protein has previously been found to relay certain VEGFR-2 dependent signals and consequently vascular physiology and structure was assessed in Shb knockout mice. X-ray computed tomography of vessels larger than 24 μm diameter (micro-CT) after contrast injection revealed an increased frequency of 48–96 μm arterioles in the hindlimb calf muscle in Shb knockout mice. Intravital microscopy of the cremaster muscle demonstrated a less regular vasculature with fewer branch points and increased vessel tortuosity, changes that led to an increased blood flow velocity. Reduced in vivo angiogenesis was observed in Shb knockout Matrigel™ plugs. Unlike the wild-type situation, VEGF-A did not provoke a dissociation of VE-cadherin from adherens junctions in Shb knockout venules. The reduced angiogenesis and altered properties of junctions had consequences for two patho-physiological responses to arterial occlusion: vascular permeability was reduced in the Shb knockout cremaster muscle after ligation of one supplying artery and heat-induced blood flow determined by Laser-Doppler measurements was decreased in the hindlimb after ligation of the femoral artery. Consequently, the Shb knockout mouse exhibited structural and functional (angiogenesis and vascular permeability) vascular abnormalities that have implications for understanding the function of VEGF-A under physiological conditions.
PMCID: PMC4059510  PMID: 22562363
VEGF; VE-cadherin; Adherens junctions and permeability; Angiogenesis; Src homology-2 protein B; Blood flow
19.  Neuronal sirtuin1 mediates retinal vascular regeneration in oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(4):985-992.
Regeneration of blood vessels in ischemic neuronal tissue is critical to reduce tissue damage in diseases. In proliferative retinopathy, initial vessel loss leads to retinal ischemia, which can induce either regrowth of vessels to restore normal metabolism and minimize damage, or progress to hypoxia-induced sight-threatening pathologic vaso-proliferation. It is not well understood how retinal neurons mediate regeneration of vascular growth in response to ischemic insults. In this study we aim to investigate the potential role of Sirtuin 1 (Sirt1), a metabolically-regulated protein deacetylase, in mediating the response of ischemic neurons to regulate vascular regrowth in a mouse model of oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy (OIR). We found that Sirt1 is highly induced in the avascular ischemic retina in OIR. Conditional depletion of neuronal Sirt1 leads to significantly decreased retinal vascular regeneration into the avascular zone and increased hypoxia-induced pathologic vascular growth. This effect is likely independent of PGC-1α, a known Sirt1 target, as absence of PGC-1α in knockout mice does not impact vascular growth in retinopathy. We found that neuronal Sirt1 controls vascular regrowth in part through modulating deacetylation and stability of hypoxia-induced factor 1α and 2α, and thereby modulating expression of angiogenic factors. These results indicate that ischemic neurons induce Sirt1 to promote revascularization into ischemic neuronal areas, suggesting a novel role of neuronal Sirt1 in mediating vascular regeneration in ischemic conditions, with potential implications beyond retinopathy.
PMCID: PMC4006695  PMID: 23912262
Acetylation; Hypoxia-induced factor; Ischemic retinopathy; Neovascularization; Retinal ganglion cell; Revascularization; Sirtuin1
20.  Computer-aided quantification of retinal neovascularization 
Angiogenesis  2009;12(3):297-301.
Rodent models of retinal angiogenesis play a pivotal role in angiogenesis research. These models are a window to developmental angiogenesis, to pathological retinopathy, and are also in vivo tools for anti-angiogenic drug screening in cancer and ophthalmic research. The mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) has emerged as one of the leading in vivo models for these purposes. Many of the animal studies that laid the foundation for the recent breakthrough of anti-angiogenic treatments into clinical practice were performed in the OIR model. However, readouts from the OIR model have been time-consuming and can vary depending on user experience. Here, we present a computer-aided quantification method that is characterized by (i) significantly improved efficiency, (ii) high correlation with the established hand-measurement protocols, and (iii) high intra-and inter-individual reproducibility of results. This method greatly facilitates quantification of retinal angiogenesis while at the same time increasing lab-to-lab reproducibility of one of the most widely used in vivo models in angiogenesis research.
PMCID: PMC4005267  PMID: 19757106
Oxygen-induced retinopathy; OIR; Retina; Neovascularization; Quantification; SWIFT_NV
21.  Ribonuclease 4 protects neuron degeneration by promoting angiogenesis, neurogenesis, and neuronal survival under stress 
Angiogenesis  2012;16(2):387-404.
Altered RNA processing is an underlying mechanism of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Missense mutations in a number of genes involved in RNA function and metabolisms are associated with ALS. Among these genes is angiogenin (ANG), the fifth member of the vertebrate-specific, secreted ribonuclease superfamily. ANG is an angiogenic ribonuclease, and both its angiogenic and ribonucleolytic activities are important for motor neuron health. Ribonuclease 4 (RNASE4), the fourth member of this superfamily, shares the same promoters with ANG and is co-expressed with ANG. However, the biological role of RNASE4 is unknown. To determine whether RNASE4 is involved in ALS pathogenesis, we sequenced the coding region of RNASE4 in ALS and control subjects and characterized the angiogenic, neurogenic, and neuroprotective activities of RNASE4 protein. We identified an allelic association of SNP rs3748338 with ALS and demonstrated that RNASE4 protein is able to induce angiogenesis in in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo assays. RNASE4 also induces neural differentiation of P19 mouse embryonal carcinoma cells and mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. Moreover, RNASE4 not only stimulates the formation of neurofilaments from mouse embryonic cortical neurons, but also protects hypothermia-induced degeneration. Importantly, systemic treatment with RNASE4 protein slowed weight loss and enhanced neuromuscular function of SOD1G93A mice.
PMCID: PMC3582744  PMID: 23143660
Ribonuclease 4; Angiogenin; Angiogenesis; Neurogenesis; Neuroprotection; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
22.  PET/SPECT Imaging of Hindlimb Ischemia: Focusing on Angiogenesis and Blood Flow 
Angiogenesis  2012;16(2):279-287.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a result of the atherosclerotic narrowing of blood vessels to the extremities, and the subsequent tissue ischemia can lead to the up-regulation of angiogenic growth factors and formation of new vessels as a recovery mechanism. Such formation of new vessels can be evaluated with various non-invasive molecular imaging techniques, where serial images from the same subjects can be obtained to allow the documentation of disease progression and therapeutic response. The most commonly used animal model for preclinical studies of PAD is the murine hindlimb ischemia model, and a number of radiotracers have been investigated for positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging of PAD. In this review article, we summarize the PET/SPECT tracers that have been tested in the murine hindlimb ischemia model as well as those used clinically to assess the extremity blood flow.
PMCID: PMC3596452  PMID: 23117521
hindlimb ischemia; peripheral artery disease (PAD); angiogenesis; positron emission tomography (PET); single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT); molecular imaging
Angiogenesis  2012;16(2):309-327.
Sprouting of angiogenic perivascular cells is thought to be highly dependent upon autocrine and paracrine growth factor stimulation. Accordingly, we report that corneal angiogenesis induced by ectopic FGF implantation is strongly impaired in NG2/CSPG4 proteoglycan (PG) null mice known to harbour a putative deficit in pericyte proliferation/mobilization. Conversely, no significant differences were seen between wild type and knockout corneas when VEGF was used as an angiocrine factor. Perturbed responsiveness of NG2-deficient pericytes to paracrine and autocrine stimulation by several FGFs could be confirmed in cells isolated from NG2 null mice, while proliferation induced by other growth factors was equivalent in wild type and knockout cells. Identical results were obtained after siRNA-mediated knock-down of NG2 in human smooth muscle-like cell lines, as also demonstrated by the decreased levels of FGF receptor phosphorylation detected in these NG2 deprived cells. Binding assays with recombinant proteins and molecular interactions examined on live cells asserted that FGF-2 bound to NG2 in a glycosaminoglycan-independent, core protein-mediated manner and that the PG was alone capable of retaining FGF-2 on the cell membrane for subsequent receptor presentation. The use of dominant-negative mutant cells, engineered by combined transduction of NG2 deletion constructs and siRNA knock-down of the endogenous PG, allowed us to establish that the FGF co-receptor activity of NG2 is entirely mediated by its extracellular portion. In fact, forced overexpression of the NG2 ectodomain in human smooth muscle-like cells increased their FGF-2-induced mitosis and compensated for low levels of FGF receptor surface expression, in a manner equivalent to that produced by overexpression of the full-length NG2. Upon FGF binding, the cytoplasmic domain of NG2 is phosphorylated, but there is no evidence that this event elicits signal transductions that could bypass the FGFR-mediated ones. Pull-down experiments, protein-protein binding assays and flow cytometry FRET coherently revealed an elective ligand-independent association of NG2 with FGFR1 and FGFR3. The NG2 cooperation with these receptors was also corroborated functionally by the outcome of FGF-2 treatments of cells engineered to express diverse NG2/FGFR combinations. Comprehensively, the findings suggest that perivascular NG2 may serve as a dual modulator of the availability/accessibility of FGF at the cell membrane, as well as the resulting FGFR transducing activity.
PMCID: PMC3656602  PMID: 23124902
Proteoglycan; angiogenesis; FGF signalling; NG2/CSPG4; pericytes
24.  Chronic hypoxia impairs extracellular nucleotide metabolism and barrier function in pulmonary artery vasa vasorum endothelial cells 
Angiogenesis  2011;14(4):503-513.
Vascular remodeling plays a pivotal role in a variety of pathophysiological conditions where hypoxia and inflammation are prominent features. Intravascular ATP, ADP and adenosine are known as important regulators of vascular tone, permeability and homeostasis, however contribution of purinergic signalling to endothelial cell growth and angiogenesis remains poorly understood. By using vasa vasorum endothelial cells (VVEC) isolated from pulmonary artery adventitia of control and chronically hypoxic neonatal calves, these studies were aimed to evaluate the effect of hypoxia on biochemical and functional properties of microvascular endothelial network at the sites of angiogenesis. In comparison with normoxic controls, VVEC from hypoxic animals are characterized by (1) drastically impaired nucleoside triphosphate diphos-phohydrolase-1 (NTPDase-1/CD39) and ecto-5′-nucleotidase/CD73 activities with respective increases in basal extracellular ATP and ADP levels (2) higher proliferative responses to low micromolar concentrations of ATP and ADP; and (3) enhanced permeability and disordered adenosinergic control of vascular barrier function (measured as a paracellular flux of 70 kDa fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran). Together, these results suggest that unique pattern of purine-mediated angiogenic activation and enhanced leakiness of VVEC from chronically hypoxic vessels may be defined by disordered endothelial nucleotide homeostasis at sites of active neovascularization.
PMCID: PMC3940057  PMID: 21922294
Purinergic signaling; Endothelial cells; Vasa vasorum; Hypoxia; NTPDase; Ecto-5′-nucleotidase
25.  Anti-angiogenic therapy for cancer: current progress, unresolved questions and future directions 
Angiogenesis  2014;17(3):471-494.
Tumours require a vascular supply to grow and can achieve this via the expression of pro-angiogenic growth factors, including members of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family of ligands. Since one or more of the VEGF ligand family is overexpressed in most solid cancers, there was great optimism that inhibition of the VEGF pathway would represent an effective anti-angiogenic therapy for most tumour types. Encouragingly, VEGF pathway targeted drugs such as bevacizumab, sunitinib and aflibercept have shown activity in certain settings. However, inhibition of VEGF signalling is not effective in all cancers, prompting the need to further understand how the vasculature can be effectively targeted in tumours. Here we present a succinct review of the progress with VEGF-targeted therapy and the unresolved questions that exist in the field: including its use in different disease stages (metastatic, adjuvant, neoadjuvant), interactions with chemotherapy, duration and scheduling of therapy, potential predictive biomarkers and proposed mechanisms of resistance, including paradoxical effects such as enhanced tumour aggressiveness. In terms of future directions, we discuss the need to delineate further the complexities of tumour vascularisation if we are to develop more effective and personalised anti-angiogenic therapies.
PMCID: PMC4061466  PMID: 24482243
VEGF; Angiogenesis; Metastasis; Resistance; Microenvironment; Personalised medicine

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