A xenograft model for venous malformation.

PMID 29786783


Vascular malformations are defects caused by the abnormal growth of the vasculature. Among them, venous malformation (VM) is an anomaly characterized by slow-flow vascular lesions with abnormally shaped veins, typically in sponge-like configuration. VMs can expand over years causing disfigurement, obstruction of vital structures, thrombosis, bleeding, and pain. Treatments have been very limited and primarily based on supportive care, compression garments, sclerotherapy, and/or surgical resection. Sirolimus treatment has recently shown efficacy in some patients with complicated vascular anomalies, including VMs. Activating somatic TIE2 gene mutations have been identified in up to 60% of VMs and PIK3CA mutations have been found in another 25%. Here, we report a xenograft model of VM that reflects the patients' mutation heterogeneity. First, we established a protocol to isolate and expand in culture endothelial cells (VM-EC) from VM tissue or VM blood of nine patients. In these cells, we identified somatic mutations of TIE2, PIK3CA, or a combination of both. Both TIE2 and PIK3CA mutations induced constitutive AKT activation, while TIE2 mutations also showed high MAPK-ERK signaling. Finally, VM-EC implanted into immune-deficient mice generated lesions with ectatic blood-filled channels with scarce smooth muscle cell coverage, similar to patients' VM. This VM xenograft model could be instrumental to test the therapeutic efficacy of Sirolimus in the presence of the different TIE2 or PIK3CA mutations or to test for efficacy of additional compounds in targeting the specific mutated protein(s), thus enabling development of personalized treatment options for VM patients.