Bone Marrow-Derived Endothelial Progenitors Expressing Delta-Like 4 (Dll4) Regulate Tumor Angiogenesis.
Real C, Remédio L, Caiado F, Igreja C, Borges C, et al. (2011)
PLoS ONE 6(4): e18323. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018323
Neo-blood vessel growth (angiogenesis), which may involve the activation of pre-existing endothelial cells (EC) and/or the recruitment of bone marrow-derived vascular precursor cells (BM-VPC), is essential for tumor growth. Molecularly, besides the well established roles for Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), recent findings show the Notch signalling pathway, in particular the ligand Delta-like 4 (Dll4), is also essential for adequate tumor angiogenesis; Dll4 inhibition results in impaired, non-functional, angiogenesis and reduced tumor growth. However, the role of BM-VPC in the setting of Notch pathway modulation was not addressed and is the subject of the present report. Here we show that SDF-1 and VEGF, which are produced by tumors, increase Dll4 expression on recruited BM-VPC. Mechanistically, BM-VPC activated, in a Dll4-dependent manner, a transcriptional program on mature EC suggestive of EC activation and stabilization. BM-VPC induced ICAM-2 and Fibronectin expression on EC, an effect that was blocked by a Dll4-specific neutralizing antibody. In vivo, transplantation of BM-VPC with decreased Dll4 into tumor-bearing mice resulted in the formation of microvessels with decreased pericyte coverage and reduced fibronectin expression. Consequently, transplantation of BM-VPC with decreased Dll4 resulted in impaired tumor angiogenesis, increased tumor hypoxia and apoptosis, and decreased tumor growth. Taken together, our data suggests that Dll4 expression by BM-VPC affects their communication with tumor vessel endothelial cells, thereby modulating tumor angiogenesis by affecting vascular stability.