Translational oncology

Epithelial ovarian cancer-induced angiogenic phenotype of human omental microvascular endothelial cells may occur independently of VEGF signaling.

PMID 24466373


Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) metastasizes transcoelomically to the peritoneum and omentum, and despite surgery and chemotherapy, recurrent disease is likely. Metastasis requires the induction of proangiogenic changes in the omental microenvironment and EOC-induced omental angiogenesis is currently a key therapeutic target. In particular, antiangiogenic therapies targeting the vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) pathway are commonly used, although, with limited effects. Here, using human omental microvascular endothelial cells (HOMECs) and ovarian cancer cell lines as an in vitro model, we show that factors secreted from EOC cells increased proliferation, migration, and tube-like structure formation in HOMECs. However, EOC-induced angiogenic tube-like formation and migration were unaffected by inhibition of tyrosine kinase activity of VEGF receptors 1 and 2 (Semaxanib; SU5416) or neutralization of VEGFA (neutralizing anti-VEGFA antibody), although VEGFA165-induced HOMEC migration and tube-like structure formation were abolished. Proteomic investigation of the EOC secretome identified several alternative angiogenesis-related proteins. We screened these for their ability to induce an angiogenic phenotype in HOMECs, i.e., proliferation, migration, and tube-like structure formation. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (IGFBP-7) increased all three parameters, and cathepsin L (CL) increased migration and tubule formation. Further investigation confirmed expression of the HGF receptor c-Met in HOMECs. HGF- and EOC-induced proliferation and angiogenic tube structure formation were blocked by the c-Met inhibitor PF04217903. Our results highlight key alternative angiogenic mediators for metastatic EOC, namely, HGF, CL, and IGFBP-7, suggesting that effective antiangiogenic therapeutic strategies for this disease require inhibition of multiple angiogenic pathways.