Pathologic ocular angiogenesis is a leading cause of blindness, influenced by both dysregulated lipid metabolism and inflammation. Retinoic-acid-receptor-related orphan receptor alpha (RORα) is a lipid-sensing nuclear receptor with diverse biologic function including regulation of lipid metabolism and inflammation; however, its role in pathologic retinal angiogenesis remains poorly understood. Using a mouse model of oxygen-induced proliferative retinopathy, we showed that RORα expression was significantly increased and genetic deficiency of RORα substantially suppressed pathologic retinal neovascularization. Loss of RORα led to decreased levels of proinflammatory cytokines and increased levels of antiinflammatory cytokines in retinopathy. RORα directly suppressed the gene transcription of suppressors of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3), a critical negative regulator of inflammation. Inhibition of SOCS3 abolished the antiinflammatory and vasoprotective effects of RORα deficiency in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, treatment with a RORα inverse agonist SR1001 effectively protected against pathologic neovascularization in both oxygen-induced retinopathy and another angiogenic model of very-low-density lipoprotein receptor (Vldlr)-deficient (Vldlr (-/-) ) mice with spontaneous subretinal neovascularization, whereas a RORα agonist worsened oxygen-induced retinopathy. Our data demonstrate that RORα is a novel regulator of pathologic retinal neovascularization, and RORα inhibition may represent a new way to treat ocular neovascularization.
Unusual focal remnant of the tunica vasculosa lentis. Clin Experiment Ophthalmol 2015;.
Nuclear receptor RORα regulates pathologic retinal angiogenesis by modulating SOCS3-dependent inflammation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015;112(33):10401-6.Abstract.
EGF-like-domain-7 is required for VEGF-induced Akt/ERK activation and vascular tube formation in an ex vivo angiogenesis assay. PLoS One 2014;9(3):e91849.Abstract.
EGFL7 is a secreted angiogenic factor, which in contrast to the well-known secreted angiogenic molecules VEGF and FGF-2, is almost exclusively expressed by endothelial cells and may act in an autocrine fashion. Prior studies have shown EGFL7 to mediate its angiogenic effects by interfering with the Notch pathway and/or via the intronic miR126. Less is known about its effects on VEGF signaling. We wanted to investigate the role of epidermal growth factor-like domain 7 (EGFL7) in VEGF-driven angiogenesis using an ex vivo Matrigel-embedded mouse eye cup assay and siRNA mediated knockdown of EGFL7 by siRNA. Our results suggested that VEGF-induced vascular tube formation was significantly impaired after siRNA downregulation of EGFL7. In addition, knockdown of EGFL7 suppressed VEGF upregulation of phospho-Akt and phospho-Erk(1/2) in endothelial cells, but did not alter VEGFR phosphorylation and neuropilin-1 protein expression or miR126 expression. Thus, in conclusion, EGFL7 is required for VEGF upregulation of the Akt/Erk (1/2) pathway during angiogenesis, and may represent a new therapeutic target in diseases of pathological neovascularization.
Cytochrome P450 2C8 ω3-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolites increase mouse retinal pathologic neovascularization--brief report. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2014;34(3):581-6.Abstract.
OBJECTIVE: Regulation of angiogenesis is critical for many diseases. Specifically, pathological retinal neovascularization, a major cause of blindness, is suppressed with dietary ω3-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3LCPUFAs) through antiangiogenic metabolites of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase. Cytochrome P450 epoxygenases (CYP2C8) also metabolize LCPUFAs, producing bioactive epoxides, which are inactivated by soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) to transdihydrodiols. The effect of these enzymes and their metabolites on neovascularization is unknown. APPROACH AND RESULTS: The mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy was used to investigate retinal neovascularization. We found that CYP2C (localized in wild-type monocytes/macrophages) is upregulated in oxygen-induced retinopathy, whereas sEH is suppressed, resulting in an increased retinal epoxide:diol ratio. With a ω3LCPUFA-enriched diet, retinal neovascularization increases in Tie2-driven human-CYP2C8-overexpressing mice (Tie2-CYP2C8-Tg), associated with increased plasma 19,20-epoxydocosapentaenoic acid and retinal epoxide:diol ratio. 19,20-Epoxydocosapentaenoic acids and the epoxide:diol ratio are decreased with overexpression of sEH (Tie2-sEH-Tg). Overexpression of CYP2C8 or sEH in mice does not change normal retinal vascular development compared with their wild-type littermate controls. The proangiogenic role in retina of CYP2C8 with both ω3LCPUFA and ω6LCPUFA and antiangiogenic role of sEH in ω3LCPUFA metabolism were corroborated in aortic ring assays. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that CYP2C ω3LCPUFA metabolites promote retinal pathological angiogenesis. CYP2C8 is part of a novel lipid metabolic pathway influencing retinal neovascularization.
The Harvard angiogenesis story. Surv Ophthalmol 2014;59(3):361-4.Abstract.
I shall discuss the work of researchers at Harvard Medical School who came together in the early 1990s. Scattered across various Harvard-affiliated hospitals and research centers, these individuals were unified by their interest in ocular neovascularization. Together and separately, they investigated models of ocular neovascularization, exploring tumor angiogenesis in eye development and disease.
Choroid sprouting assay: an ex vivo model of microvascular angiogenesis. PLoS One 2013;8(7):e69552.Abstract.
Angiogenesis of the microvasculature is central to the etiology of many diseases including proliferative retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and cancer. A mouse model of microvascular angiogenesis would be very valuable and enable access to a wide range of genetically manipulated tissues that closely approximate small blood vessel growth in vivo. Vascular endothelial cells cultured in vitro are widely used, however, isolating pure vascular murine endothelial cells is technically challenging. A microvascular mouse explant model that is robust, quantitative and can be reproduced without difficulty would overcome these limitations. Here we characterized and optimized for reproducibility an organotypic microvascular angiogenesis mouse and rat model from the choroid, a microvascular bed in the posterior of eye. The choroidal tissues from C57BL/6J and 129S6/SvEvTac mice and Sprague Dawley rats were isolated and incubated in Matrigel. Vascular sprouting was comparable between choroid samples obtained from different animals of the same genetic background. The sprouting area, normalized to controls, was highly reproducible between independent experiments. We developed a semi-automated macro in ImageJ software to allow for more efficient quantification of sprouting area. Isolated choroid explants responded to manipulation of the external environment while maintaining the local interactions of endothelial cells with neighboring cells, including pericytes and macrophages as evidenced by immunohistochemistry and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis. This reproducible ex vivo angiogenesis assay can be used to evaluate angiogenic potential of pharmacologic compounds on microvessels and can take advantage of genetically manipulated mouse tissue for microvascular disease research.
Role of shear-stress-induced VEGF expression in endothelial cell survival. J Cell Sci 2012;125(Pt 4):831-43.Abstract.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a crucial role in developmental and pathological angiogenesis. Expression of VEGF in quiescent adult tissue suggests a potential role in the maintenance of mature blood vessels. We demonstrate, using a Vegf-lacZ reporter mouse model, that VEGF is expressed by arterial but not by venous or capillary endothelial cells (ECs) in vivo. Using an in vitro model, we show that arterial shear stress of human umbilical vein ECs (HUVECs) decreases apoptosis and increases VEGF expression, which is mediated by the induction of Krüppel-like factor 2 (KLF2). Additionally, shear stress stimulates the expression of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) and is associated with its activation. Knockdown of VEGF in shear stressed HUVECs blocks the protective effect of shear stress, resulting in EC apoptosis equivalent to that in control ECs cultured under static conditions. Similarly, treatment of ECs subjected to arterial shear stress with the VEGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor SU1498, or VEGFR2 neutralizing antiserum, led to increased apoptosis, demonstrating that the mechanoprotection from increased shear is mediated by VEGFR2. Taken together, these studies suggest that arterial flow induces VEGF-VEGFR2 autocrine-juxtacrine signaling, which is a previously unidentified mechanism for vascular EC survival in adult arterial blood vessels.
A brief history of anti-VEGF for the treatment of ocular angiogenesis. Am J Pathol 2012;181(2):376-9.Abstract.
In 1994, The American Journal of Pathology published a key article reporting that hypoxic retina produces vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), suggesting a role for VEGF in ocular neovascularization. Subsequent developments in anti-VEGF treatment for neovascular eye disease have improved visual outcomes and changed the standard of care in retinal medicine and ophthalmology.
The regulatory roles of apoptosis-inducing factor in the formation and regression processes of ocular neovascularization. Am J Pathol 2012;181(1):53-61.Abstract.
The role of apoptosis in the formation and regression of neovascularization is largely hypothesized, although the detailed mechanism remains unclear. Inflammatory cells and endothelial cells both participate and interact during neovascularization. During the early stage, these cells may migrate into an angiogenic site and form a pro-angiogenic microenvironment. Some angiogenic vessels appear to regress, whereas some vessels mature and remain. The control mechanisms of these processes, however, remain unknown. Previously, we reported that the prevention of mitochondrial apoptosis contributed to cellular survival via the prevention of the release of proapoptotic factors, such as apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) and cytochrome c. In this study, we investigated the regulatory role of cellular apoptosis in angiogenesis using two models of ocular neovascularization: laser injury choroidal neovascularization and VEGF-induced corneal neovascularization in AIF-deficient mice. Averting apoptosis in AIF-deficient mice decreased apoptosis of leukocytes and endothelial cells compared to wild-type mice and resulted in the persistence of these cells at angiogenic sites in vitro and in vivo. Consequently, AIF deficiency expanded neovascularization and diminished vessel regression in these two models. We also observed that peritoneal macrophages from AIF-deficient mice showed anti-apoptotic survival compared to wild-type mice under conditions of starvation. Our data suggest that AIF-related apoptosis plays an important role in neovascularization and that mitochondria-regulated apoptosis could offer a new target for the treatment of pathological angiogenesis.
SOCS3 is an endogenous inhibitor of pathologic angiogenesis. Blood 2012;120(14):2925-9.Abstract.
Inflammatory cytokines and growth factors drive angiogenesis independently; however, their integrated role in pathologic and physiologic angiogenesis is not fully understood. Suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 (SOCS3) is an inducible negative feedback regulator of inflammation and growth factor signaling. In the present study, we show that SOCS3 curbs pathologic angiogenesis. Using a Cre/Lox system, we deleted SOCS3 in vessels and studied developmental and pathologic angiogenesis in murine models of oxygen-induced retinopathy and cancer. Conditional loss of SOCS3 leads to increased pathologic neovascularization, resulting in pronounced retinopathy and increased tumor size. In contrast, physiologic vascularization is not regulated by SOCS3. In vitro, SOCS3 knockdown increases proliferation and sprouting of endothelial cells costimulated with IGF-1 and TNFα via reduced feedback inhibition of the STAT3 and mTOR pathways. These results identify SOCS3 as a pivotal endogenous feedback inhibitor of pathologic angiogenesis and a potential therapeutic target acting at the converging crossroads of growth factor- and cytokine-induced vessel growth.