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PLoS One. 2016 Aug 4;11(8):e0159739. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159739. eCollection 2016.

Synthetic Site-Selectively Mono-6-O-Sulfated Heparan Sulfate Dodecasaccharide Shows Anti-Angiogenic Properties In Vitro and Sensitizes Tumors to Cisplatin In Vivo.

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Institute of Cancer Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester M20 4BX, United Kingdom.
School of Chemistry and Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, The University of Manchester, Manchester M1 7ND, United Kingdom.
Unit of General Pathology and Immunology, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy.


Heparan sulphate (HS), a ubiquitously expressed glycosaminoglycan (GAG), regulates multiple cellular functions by mediating interactions between numerous growth factors and their cell surface cognate receptors. However, the structural specificity of HS in these interactions remains largely undefined. Here, we used completely synthetic, structurally defined, alternating N-sulfated glucosamine (NS) and 2-O-sulfated iduronate (IS) residues to generate dodecasaccharides ([NSIS]6) that contained no, one or six glucosamine 6-O-sulfates (6S). The aim was to address how 6S contributes to the potential of defined HS dodecasaccharides to inhibit the angiogenic growth factors FGF2 and VEGF165, in vitro and in vivo. We show that the addition of a single 6S at the non-reducing end of [NSIS]6, i.e. [NSIS6S]-[NSIS]5, significantly augments the inhibition of FGF2-dependent endothelial cell proliferation, migration and sprouting in vitro when compared to the non-6S variant. In contrast, the fully 6-O-sulfated dodecasaccharide, [NSIS6S]6, is not a potent inhibitor of FGF2. Addition of a single 6S did not significantly improve inhibitory properties of [NSIS]6 when tested against VEGF165-dependent endothelial cell functions.In vivo, [NSIS6S]-[NSIS]5 blocked FGF2-dependent blood vessel formation without affecting tumor growth. Reduction of non-FGF2-dependent ovarian tumor growth occurred when [NSIS6S]-[NSIS]5 was combined with cisplatin. The degree of inhibition by [NSIS6S]-[NSIS]5 in combination with cisplatin in vivo equated with that induced by bevacizumab and sunitinib when administered with cisplatin. Evaluation of post-treatment vasculature revealed that [NSIS6S]-[NSIS]5 treatment had the greatest impact on tumor blood vessel size and lumen formation. Our data for the first time demonstrate that synthetic, structurally defined oligosaccharides have potential to be developed as active anti-angiogenic agents that sensitize tumors to chemotherapeutic agents.

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