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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Mar 19;95(6):437-48.

Effects of interferon alpha on vascular endothelial growth factor gene transcription and tumor angiogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Hepatology, Gastroenterology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Charité, Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Interferon alpha (IFN-alpha) has antiangiogenic activity, although the underlying mechanism of action is unclear. Because human neuroendocrine (NE) tumors are highly vascularized and sensitive to IFN-alpha, we investigated whether the therapeutic effects of IFN-alpha result from an inhibition of angiogenesis mediated by a decrease in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene expression.

METHODS:

VEGF gene and protein expression was analyzed in NE tumors by immunohistochemistry and in NE tumor cell lines by quantitative competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). VEGF promoter-reporter gene constructs containing various deletions or mutations and gel shift assays were used to identify minimal promoter requirements and potential transcription factors. A xenograft nude mouse model (five mice per group) was used to determine the effect of IFN-alpha on tumor growth (NE Bon cells and pancreatic Capan-1 cells) and microvessel density. Liver metastases from eight patients with NE tumors were analyzed for microvessel density, VEGF mRNA content, and VEGF plasma levels before and after initiation of IFN-alpha therapy.

RESULTS:

NE tumors and cell lines expressed VEGF mRNA and secreted VEGF protein. In vitro, IFN-alpha decreased transcription of VEGF gene expression through an Sp1- and/or Sp3-dependent inhibition of VEGF promoter activity. Compared with vehicle treatment in mice, IFN-alpha inhibited tumor growth by 36% and reduced microvessel density from 56 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 49 to 69) to 37 per x400 Field (95% CI = 32 to 41, P =.015). Patients with NE tumors had lower VEGF plasma levels and reduced VEGF mRNA levels and microvessel density in liver metastasis biopsy material after IFN-alpha treatment.

CONCLUSION:

IFN-alpha confers its antitumor activity, at least in part, by its antiangiogenic activity, which results from Sp1- and/or Sp3-mediated inhibition of VEGF gene transcription.

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PMID:
12644537
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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