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J Exp Med. 2012 Aug 27;209(9):1611-27. doi: 10.1084/jem.20111580. Epub 2012 Aug 20.

Endothelial Wnt/β-catenin signaling inhibits glioma angiogenesis and normalizes tumor blood vessels by inducing PDGF-B expression.

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Institute of Neurology (Edinger Institute) and 2 Institute for Cardiovascular Regeneration, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt Medical School, 60590 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Endothelial Wnt/β-catenin signaling is necessary for angiogenesis of the central nervous system and blood-brain barrier (BBB) differentiation, but its relevance for glioma vascularization is unknown. In this study, we show that doxycycline-dependent Wnt1 expression in subcutaneous and intracranial mouse glioma models induced endothelial Wnt/β-catenin signaling and led to diminished tumor growth, reduced vascular density, and normalized vessels with increased mural cell attachment. These findings were corroborated in GL261 glioma cells intracranially transplanted in mice expressing dominant-active β-catenin specifically in the endothelium. Enforced endothelial β-catenin signaling restored BBB characteristics, whereas inhibition by Dkk1 (Dickkopf-1) had opposing effects. By overactivating the Wnt pathway, we induced the Wnt/β-catenin-Dll4/Notch signaling cascade in tumor endothelia, blocking an angiogenic and favoring a quiescent vascular phenotype, indicated by induction of stalk cell genes. We show that β-catenin transcriptional activity directly regulated endothelial expression of platelet-derived growth factor B (PDGF-B), leading to mural cell recruitment thereby contributing to vascular quiescence and barrier function. We propose that reinforced Wnt/β-catenin signaling leads to inhibition of angiogenesis with normalized and less permeable vessels, which might prove to be a valuable therapeutic target for antiangiogenic and edema glioma therapy.

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