Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is induced by stress. We determined whether chemotherapy (genotoxic stress) could induce expression of VEGF and VEGF receptors (VEGFR) in human colorectal cancer cells. The colorectal cancer cell lines HT29, RKO, and HCT116 were acutely exposed to increasing doses of oxaliplatin or 5-fluorouracil for 2, 6, and 24 h in vitro. Expression of VEGF ligand family members, VEGFRs, and signaling intermediates was determined by reverse transcription-PCR and Northern and Western blotting. The effect of oxaliplatin on VEGF-A transcriptional activity was determined by promoter assays. Acute exposure of human colorectal cancer cells to oxaliplatin led to a marked induction of VEGF-A mRNA and protein, whereas 5-fluorouracil alone or when added to oxaliplatin did not cause a further increase in VEGF levels. VEGF-A promoter activity was induced by oxaliplatin exposure. Expression of VEGF-C, placental growth factor, VEGFR-1, and neuropilin-1 levels were also increased when cells were treated with oxaliplatin. Oxaliplatin led to an increase in Akt and Src activation in HT29 cells. In contrast, Akt activation did not change in RKO cells whereas phospho-Src and phospho-p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase was dramatic increased by oxaliplatin. Inhibition of Akt or Src activation with wortmannin or PP2 blocked induction of VEGF-A by oxaliplatin in HT29 or RKO cells, respectively. VEGFRs may reflect the adaptive stress responses by which tumor cells attempt to protect themselves from genotoxic stress. Neutralization of prosurvival responses with anti-VEGF therapy might explain, in part, some of the beneficial effects of anti-VEGF therapy when added to chemotherapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research