A DNA vaccine against VEGF receptor 2 prevents effective angiogenesis and inhibits tumor growth

Nat Med. 2002 Dec;8(12):1369-75. doi: 10.1038/nm1202-794. Epub 2002 Nov 4.


Tumor cells are elusive targets for immunotherapy due to their heterogeneity and genetic instability. Here we describe a novel, oral DNA vaccine that targets stable, proliferating endothelial cells in the tumor vasculature rather than tumor cells. Targeting occurs through upregulated vascular-endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (FLK-1) of proliferating endothelial cells in the tumor vasculature. This vaccine effectively protected mice from lethal challenges with melanoma, colon carcinoma and lung carcinoma cells and reduced growth of established metastases in a therapeutic setting. CTL-mediated killing of endothelial cells indicated breaking of peripheral immune tolerance against this self antigen, resulting in markedly reduced dissemination of spontaneous and experimental pulmonary metastases. Angiogenesis in the tumor vasculature was suppressed without impairment of fertility, neuromuscular performance or hematopoiesis, albeit with a slight delay in wound healing. Our strategy circumvents problems in targeting of genetically unstable tumor cells. This approach may provide a new strategy for the rational design of cancer therapies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / blood supply*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control*
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 / immunology*
  • Wound Healing


  • Vaccines, DNA
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2