Purpose: To characterize the angiogenic and inflammatory responses of human choroidal endothelial cells (HCECs) to stimulators and inhibitors of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway (UPP).
Methods: The regulation of the UPP by the inhibitor withaferin A and its congener, withanolide D, two natural products derived from the medicinal plant Withania somnifera was assessed in the three-dimensional endothelial cell sprouting assay (3D-ECSA), by using HCEC- and human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC)-derived spheroids embedded in a collagen I matrix. Western blot analysis was used to investigate the effect of withanolides on IkappaB-alpha, polyubiquitination, and heme oxygenase (HO)-1 regulation in HCEC and HUVEC cultures.
Results: HCECs, like HUVECs, responded to fibroblast growth factor-2, vascular endothelial growth factor, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha stimulation and sprouted vessel-like structures in collagen I matrix. However, HCECs were slower to generate these sprouting vessels, when compared with HUVECs. The extent of inhibition of endothelial cell sprouting in 3D matrix, the blockade of TNF-alpha-induced IkappaB-alpha degradation, levels of global polyubiquitinated proteins, and induced production of HO-1 in response to treatment by the withanolides in cultured endothelial cells was similarly regulated between HCECs and HUVECs.
Conclusions: HCECs share with HUVECs a similar response to UPP inhibitors, suggesting that this well-conserved pathway that regulates angioinflammatory mechanisms could be exploited for drug-targeting in the development of novel agents for CNV treatment.