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Blood. 2001 Sep 15;98(6):1904-13.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an autocrine growth factor for VEGF receptor-positive human tumors.

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Department of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Angiogenesis is required for the progression of tumors from a benign to a malignant phenotype and for metastasis. Malignant tumor cells secrete factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which bind to their cognate receptors on endothelial cells to induce angiogenesis. Here it is shown that several tumor types express VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) and that inhibition of VEGF (VEGF antisense oligonucleotide AS-3) or VEGFRs (neutralizing antibodies) inhibited the proliferation of these cell lines in vitro. Furthermore, this effect was abrogated by exogenous VEGF. Thus, VEGF is an autocrine growth factor for tumor cell lines that express VEGFRs. A modified form of VEGF AS-3 (AS-3m), in which flanking 4 nucleotides were substituted with 2-O-methylnucleosides (mixed backbone oligonucleotides), retained specificity and was active when given orally or systemically in vitro and in murine tumor models. In VEGFR-2-expressing tumors, VEGF inhibition may have dual functions: direct inhibition of tumor cell growth and inhibition of angiogenesis.

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