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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Apr 14;342(3):851-8. Epub 2006 Feb 20.

IGF-1 induced vascular endothelial growth factor secretion in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, 173 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Elevated vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels correlate with increased progression and poor prognosis of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). VEGF expression is regulated by hypoxia and cytokines, including insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). In this report, we examined IGF-1 signaling and VEGF expression in SCC-9 cells. IGF-1 and the chemical hypoxia agent, cobalt chloride, each stimulated VEGF secretion and VEGF promoter activation. Cobalt chloride increased Hif-1alpha protein levels and HIF-1 dependent activation of the enolase promoter. IGF-1 increased these parameters only in the presence of cobalt chloride. IGF-1 stimulated PI-3K/Akt and Erk/MAPK pathways in SCC-9 cells, each contributing to Hif-1alpha expression and VEGF secretion. SCC-9 cells express the VEGF receptors Flk-1 and neuropilin-1, with VEGF treatment increasing VEGF promoter activity and VEGF secretion that was attenuated by the Flk-1 tyrosine kinase inhibitor, ZM 323881. These results demonstrate the presence of an IGF-1 regulated VEGF autocrine loop in HNSCC.

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