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Cancer Res. 2006 Mar 1;66(5):2650-7.

Inhibition of VEGFR-3 activation with the antagonistic antibody more potently suppresses lymph node and distant metastases than inactivation of VEGFR-2.

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  • 1Department of Oncological Sciences, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Lymph nodes are the first site of metastases for most types of cancer, and lymph node status is a key indicator of patient prognosis. Induction of tumor lymphangiogenesis by vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) has been shown to play an important role in promoting tumor metastases to lymph nodes. Here, we employed receptor-specific antagonist antibodies in an orthotopic spontaneous breast cancer metastasis model to provide direct evidence for the key role of VEGFR-3 activation in metastasis. Inhibition of VEGFR-3 activation more potently suppressed regional and distant metastases than inactivation of VEGFR-2, although VEGFR-2 blockade was more effective in inhibiting angiogenesis and tumor growth. Despite prominent proliferation, metastases were not vascularized in any of the control and treatment groups, indicating that the growth of metastases was not dependent on angiogenesis at the secondary site for the duration of the experiment. Systemic treatment with either VEGFR-2 or VEGFR-3 antagonistic antibodies suppressed tumor lymphangiogenesis, indicating that VEGFR-3 signaling affects the rate of tumor cell entry into lymphatic vessels through both lymphangiogenesis-dependent and independent mechanisms. Combination treatment with the anti-VEGFR-2 and anti-VEGFR-3 antibodies more potently decreased lymph node and lung metastases than each antibody alone. These results validate the concept of targeting the lymphatic dissemination and thereby very early steps of the metastatic process for metastasis control and suggest that a combination therapy with antiangiogenic agents may be a particularly promising approach for controlling metastases.

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