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PLoS One. 2009 Sep 18;4(9):e6525. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006525.

VEGFR1 activity modulates myeloid cell infiltration in growing lung metastases but is not required for spontaneous metastasis formation.

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Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


The role of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR1/Flt1) in tumor metastasis remains incompletely characterized. Recent reports suggested that blocking VEGFR1 activity or the interaction with its ligands (VEGF and PlGF) has anti-tumor effects. Moreover, several studies showed that VEGFR1 mediates tumor progression to distant metastasis. All these effects may be exerted indirectly by recruitment of bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs), such as myeloid cells. We investigated the role of VEGFR1 activity in BMDCs during the pre-metastatic phase, i.e., prior to metastatic nodule formation in mice after surgical removal of the primary tumor. Using pharmacologic blockade or genetic deletion of the tyrosine kinase domain of VEGFR1, we demonstrate that VEGFR1 activity is not required for the infiltration of de novo myeloid BMDCs in the pre-metastatic lungs in two tumor models and in two mouse models. Moreover, in line with emerging clinical observations, we show that blockade of VEGFR1 activity neither prevents nor changes the rate of spontaneous metastasis formation after primary tumor removal. Prevention of metastasis will require further identification and exploration of cellular and molecular pathways that mediate the priming of the metastatic soil.

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