Author(s): Colavitti R, Pani G, Bedogni B, Anzevino R, Borrello S
Recent evidence shows the involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the mitogenic cascade initiated by the tyrosine kinase receptors of several growth factor peptides. We have asked whether also the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) utilizes ROS as messenger intermediates downstream of the VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2)/KDR receptor given that the proliferation of endothelial cells during neoangiogenesis is physiologically regulated by oxygen and likely by its derivative species. In porcine aortic endothelial cells stably expressing human KDR, receptor activation by VEGF is followed by a rapid increase in the intracellular generation of hydrogen peroxide as revealed by the peroxide-sensitive probe dichlorofluorescein diacetate. Genetic and pharmacological studies suggest that such oxidant burst requires as upstream events the activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and the small GTPase Rac-1 and is likely initiated by lipoxygenases. Interestingly, ROS generation in response to VEGF is not blocked but rather potentiated by endothelial nitric-oxide synthase inhibitors diphenyleneiodonium and N(G)methyl-l-arginine, ruling out the possibility of nitric oxide being the oxidant species here detected in VEGF-stimulated cells. Inhibition of KDR-dependent generation of ROS attenuates early signaling events including receptor autophosphorylation and binding to a phospholipase C-gamma-glutathione S-transferase fusion protein. Moreover, catalase, the lipoxygenase inhibitor nordihydroguaiaretic acid, the synthetic ROS scavenger EUK-134, and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin all reduce ERK phosphorylation in response to VEGF, and antioxidants prevent VEGF-dependent mitogenesis. Finally, cell culture and stimulation in a nearly anoxic environment mimic the effect of ROS scavenger on receptor and ERK phosphorylation, reinforcing the idea that ROS are necessary components of the mitogenic signaling cascade initiated by KDR. These data identify ROS as a new class of intracellular angiogenic mediators and may represent a potential premise for new antioxidant-based antiangiogenic therapies.