Tumor angiogenesis, a major requirement for tumor outgrowth and metastasis formation, is regulated by pro- and anti-angiogenic factors. We have studied the expression of a panel of angiogenic factors, and of the angiogenesis inhibitor angiostatin, in a panel of human melanoma cell lines giving rise to xenografts with different vascular densities. Angiogenic-factor expression was analyzed in vitro (cell lines) and in vivo (xenografts), both at mRNA (RT-PCR and Northern blot) and at protein level (ELISA and Western blot). In vitro angiostatin generation was assessed by Western-blot analysis. Expression of bFGF and VEGF was clearly correlated with a high degree of vascularization, confirming the importance of these factors for tumor angiogenesis. In addition, there was exclusive or elevated in vitro expression of angiogenic factors IL-8, PDGF-AB, and, to a lesser extent, midkine in cell lines that formed highly vascularized tumors. A similar angiogenic-factor-expression pattern was found in the corresponding xenografts, with the exception of VEGF. In most cell lines, this factor had low expression in vitro which was strongly enhanced in vivo. Although all 8 melanoma cell lines were able to excise the angiostatin fragment from the plasminogen parent molecule in vitro, cell lines BLM and M14 showed the most potent angiostatin generation. In vitro angiostatin generation by cell lysates prepared from melanoma xenografts was comparable in all xenograft types. Thus, in our model system we found no correlation between angiostatin generation and vascular density. Our study has limited the number of pro-angiogenic factors that may be involved in melanoma angiogenesis, and provides evidence for the notion that regulation of tumor angiogenesis is dependent on multiple factors. Inhibition of angiogenesis for therapeutic purposes, therefore, should preferably not concentrate on a single factor.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.