Nitric oxide synthase inhibition by N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester inhibits tumor-induced angiogenesis in mammary tumors

Am J Pathol. 1999 Oct;155(4):1381-90. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)65240-6.


Using a murine breast cancer model, we earlier found a positive correlation between the expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and tumor progression; treatment with inhibitors of NOS, N(G)-methyl-L-arginine (NMMA) and N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), had antitumor and antimetastatic effects that were partly attributed to reduced tumor cell invasiveness. In the present study, we used a novel in vivo model of tumor angiogenesis using subcutaneous implants of tumor cells suspended in growth factor-reduced Matrigel to examine the angiogenic role of NO in a highly metastatic murine mammary adenocarcinoma cell line. This cell line, C3L5, expresses endothelial (e) NOS in vitro and in vivo, and inducible (i) NOS in vitro on stimulation with lipopolysaccharide and interferon-gamma. Female C3H/HeJ mice received subcutaneous implants of growth factor-reduced Matrigel inclusive of C3L5 cells on one side, and on the contralateral side, Matrigel alone; L-NAME and D-NAME (inactive enantiomer) were subsequently administered for 14 days using osmotic minipumps. Immediately after sacrifice, implants were removed and processed for immunolocalization of eNOS and iNOS proteins, and measurement of angiogenesis. Neovascularization was quantified in sections stained with Masson's trichrome or immunostained for the endothelial cell specific CD31 antigen. While most tumor cells and endothelial cells expressed immunoreactive eNOS protein, iNOS was localized in endothelial cells and some macrophages within the tumor-inclusive implants. Measurable angiogenesis occurred only in implants containing tumor cells. Irrespective of the method of quantification used, tumor-induced neovascularization was significantly reduced in L-NAME-treated mice relative to those treated with D-NAME. The quantity of stromal tissue was lower, but the quantity of necrotic tissue higher in L-NAME relative to D-NAME-treated animals. The total mass of viable tissue (ie, stroma and tumor cells) was lower in L-NAME relative to D-NAME-treated animals. These data suggest that NO is a key mediator of C3L5 tumor-induced angiogenesis, and that the antitumor effects of L-NAME are partly mediated by reduced tumor angiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coloring Agents
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelium, Vascular / enzymology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Macrophages / enzymology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / blood supply
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / drug therapy*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Coloring Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III
  • Nos2 protein, mouse
  • Nos3 protein, mouse
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester