Oncogene. 2015 June
Progastrin a new pro-angiogenic factor in colorectal cancer
Angiogenesis is essential in tumor progression and metastatic process, and increased angiogenesis has been associated with poor prognosis and relapse of colorectal cancer (CRC). VEGF has become the main target of anti-angiogenic therapy. However, most patients relapse after an initial response or present a resistance to the treatment.
Identification of new pro-angiogenic factors may help to improve anti-angiogenic therapy. In this study, we demonstrated that the pro-hormone progastrin (PG), over-expressed in CRC, recognized as a growth factor, is a potent pro-angiogenic factor. In transgenic mice and human colorectal HPs producing high levels of PG, we correlated PG overexpression with an increased vascularization. In vitro, exogenous PG and conditioned media (CM) from CRC cells producing PG increased endothelial cell proliferation and migration. We also showed that treatment with exogenous PG can increase the ability of endothelial cells to form capillary-like structures.
Moreover, we demonstrated that PG enhanced endothelial permeability. The finding that PG stimulated the phosphorylation of vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin, p125-FAK, paxillin and induced actin remodelling was consistent with a role of these components in PG-stimulated endothelial cell migration and permeability. The pro-angiogenic effects observed with CM were significantly inhibited when CRC cells expressed a PG shRNA.
In vivo, we found an important decrease in tumor growth and neovascularization when the CRC cells expressing the PG shRNA were xenografted in mice or in the chick chorioallantoic membrane model. We also observed an increase in the coverage of blood vessels by pericytes and a decrease in endothelial permeability when PG expression was blocked. Our results demonstrate that PG is a new pro-angiogenic factor in CRC and an attractive therapeutic target.