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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Oct 23;98(22):12485-90. Epub 2001 Oct 16.

Thrombospondin-1 suppresses spontaneous tumor growth and inhibits activation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 and mobilization of vascular endothelial growth factor.

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Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1570, USA.


Growth of tumors and metastasis are processes known to require neovascularization. To ascertain the participation of the endogenous angiogenic inhibitor thrombospondin-1 (TSP1) in tumor progression, we generated mammary tumor-prone mice that either lack, or specifically overexpress, TSP1 in the mammary gland. Tumor burden and vasculature were significantly increased in TSP1-deficient animals, and capillaries within the tumor appeared distended and sinusoidal. In contrast, TSP1 overexpressors showed delayed tumor growth or lacked frank tumor development (20% of animals); tumor capillaries showed reduced diameter and were less frequent. Interestingly, absence of TSP1 resulted in increased association of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) with its receptor VEGFR2 and higher levels of active matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9), a molecule previously shown to facilitate both angiogenesis and tumor invasion. In vitro, enzymatic activation of proMMP9 was suppressed by TSP1. Together these results argue for a protective role of endogenous inhibitors of angiogenesis in tumor growth and implicate TSP1 in the in vivo regulation of metalloproteinase-9 activation and VEGF signaling.

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