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J Cell Physiol. 2011 Mar;226(3):800-8. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22404.

Pro-inflammatory angiogenesis is mediated by p38 MAP kinase.

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Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.


Chronic inflammation is tightly linked to diseases associated with endothelial dysfunction including aberrant angiogenesis. To better understand the endothelial role in pro-inflammatory angiogenesis, we analyzed signaling pathways in continuously activated endothelial cells, which were either chronically exposed to soluble TNF or the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generating H2O2, or express active transmembrane TNF. Testing in an in vitro capillary sprout formation assay, continuous endothelial activation increased angiogenesis dependent on activation of p38 MAP kinase, NADPH oxidase, and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP). p38 MAP kinase- and MMP-9-dependent angiogenesis in our assay system may be part of a positive feed forward autocrine loop because continuously activated endothelial cells displayed up-regulated ROS production and subsequent endothelial TNF expression. The pro-angiogenic role of the p38 MAP kinase in continuously activated endothelial cells was in stark contrast to the anti-angiogenic activity of the p38 MAP kinase in unstimulated control endothelial cells. In vivo, using an experimental prostate tumor, pharmacological inhibition of p38 MAP kinase demonstrated a significant reduction in tumor growth and in vessel density, suggesting a pro-angiogenic role of the p38 MAP kinase in pathological angiogenesis in vivo. In conclusion, our results suggest that continuous activation of endothelial cells can cause a switch of the p38 MAP kinase from anti-angiogenic to pro-angiogenic activities in conditions which link oxidative stress and autocrine TNF production.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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