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Br J Cancer. 2011 Mar 29;104(7):1185-92. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.74. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

Thymidine phosphorylase in cancer cells stimulates human endothelial cell migration and invasion by the secretion of angiogenic factors.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, VU University Medical Center, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Thymidine phosphorylase (TP) is often overexpressed in tumours and has a role in tumour aggressiveness and angiogenesis. Here, we determined whether TP increased tumour invasion and whether TP-expressing cancer cells stimulated angiogenesis.


Angiogenesis was studied by exposing endothelial cells (HUVECs) to conditioned medium (CM) derived from cancer cells with high (Colo320TP1=CT-CM, RT112/TP=RT-CM) and no TP expression after which migration (wound-healing-assay) and invasion (transwell-assay) were determined. The involvement of several angiogenic factors were examined by RT-PCR, ELISA and blocking antibodies.


Tumour invasion was not dependent on intrinsic TP expression. The CT-CM and RT-CM stimulated HUVEC-migration and invasion by about 15 and 40%, respectively. Inhibition by 10 μM TPI and 100 μM L-dR, blocked migration and reduced the invasion by 50-70%. Thymidine phosphorylase activity in HUVECs was increased by CT-CM. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction revealed a higher mRNA expression of bFGF (Colo320TP1), IL-8 (RT112/TP) and TNF-α, but not VEGF. Blocking antibodies targeting these factors decreased the migration and invasion that was induced by the CT-CM and RT-CM, except for IL-8 in CT-CM and bFGF in RT-CM.


In our cell line panels, TP did not increase the tumour invasion, but stimulated the migration and invasion of HUVECs by two different mechanisms. Hence, TP targeting seems to provide a potential additional strategy in the field of anti-angiogenic therapy.

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