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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Jun 25;99(13):8868-73. Epub 2002 Jun 17.

Blockade of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 signaling inhibits fibroblast growth factor-2-induced lymphangiogenesis in mouse cornea.

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Molecular/Cancer Biology Laboratory and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, and Helsinki University Central Hospital, Biomedicum Helsinki, University of Helsinki, POB 63, Haartmaninkatu 8, 00014, Helsinki, Finland.


Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 (VEGFR-3) is a major mediator of lymphangiogenesis. Recently, VEGFR-3 ligands, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D were reported to promote tumor lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis, and these processes were inhibited by blocking of the VEGFR-3-signaling pathway. Here, we have adapted the mouse corneal angiogenesis assay to study potential lymphangiogenic factors and inhibitors. Immunohistochemical analysis with lymphatic endothelial markers showed that VEGF-C induces lymphatic as well as blood vessel growth in the cornea. By contrast, VEGF induced angiogenesis but not lymphangiogenesis. Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) stimulated both lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis. FGF-2 up-regulated VEGF-C expression in vascular endothelial and perivascular cells. Furthermore, administration of blocking anti-VEGFR-3 antibodies inhibited the FGF-2-induced lymphangiogenesis. These findings show that VEGFR-3 can mediate lymphangiogenesis induced by other growth factors. Because increased expression of FGF-2 and VEGF-C has been associated with lymphatic metastasis, our results provide a potential strategy for the inhibition of lymphatic metastasis in cancer therapy.

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