HER2 signaling modulates the equilibrium between pro- and antiangiogenic factors via distinct pathways: implications for HER2-targeted antibody therapy

Oncogene. 2006 Nov 2;25(52):6986-96. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209685. Epub 2006 May 22.


We determined the impact of HER2 signaling on two proangiogenic factors, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin-8 (IL-8), and on an antiangiogenic factor, thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1). Re-expression of HER2 in MCF-7 and T-47D breast cancer cells that endogenously express low levels of HER2 resulted in elevated expression of VEGF and IL-8 and decreased expression of TSP-1. Inhibition of HER2 with a humanized anti-HER2 antibody (trastuzumab, or Herceptin) or a retrovirus-mediated small interfering RNA against HER2 (siHER2) decreased VEGF and IL-8 expression, but increased TSP-1 expression in BT474 breast cancer cells that express high levels of HER2. These in vitro results were further evaluated by treatment of BT474 xenografts in immunosuppressed mice with trastuzumab. Trastuzumab inhibited growth of BT474 xenografts and decreased microvascular density associated with downregulation of VEGF and IL-8 and with upregulation of TSP-1 expression. Inhibiting the PI3K-AKT pathway decreased VEGF and IL-8 expression. AKT1 overexpession increased VEGF and IL-8 expression, but did not increase TSP-1 expression. A p38 kinase inhibitor, SB203580, instead blocked TSP-1 expression and a p38 activator, MKK6, increased TSP-1 expression. Trastuzumab stimulated sustained p38 activation and SB203580 attenuated the TSP-1 upregulation induced by trastuzumab. HER2 signaling therefore influences the equilibrium between pro- and antiangiogenic factors via distinct signaling pathways. Trastuzumab inhibits angiogenesis and tumor growth, at least in part, through activation of the HER2-p38-TSP-1 pathway and inhibition of the HER2-PI3K-AKT-VEGF/IL-8 pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / blood supply
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / immunology
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Thrombospondin 1 / metabolism
  • Transfection
  • Trastuzumab
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / drug effects
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interleukin-8
  • Thrombospondin 1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Trastuzumab