VEGF is a potent pro-angiogenic factor whose effects are opposed by a host of anti-angiogenic proteins, including thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1). We have previously shown that VEGF has important extravascular roles in the ovary and that VEGF and TSP-1 are inversely expressed throughout the ovarian cycle. To date, however, a causal interaction between TSP-1 and VEGF has not been identified. Here, we show that TSP-1 has a direct inhibitory effect on VEGF by binding the growth factor and internalizing it via LRP-1. Mice lacking TSP-1 are subfertile and exhibited ovarian hypervascularization and altered ovarian morphology. Treatment of ovarian cells with TSP-1 decreased VEGF levels and rendered the cells more susceptible to TNFalpha-induced apoptosis. Knockdown of TSP-1, through RNA interference, resulted in overexpression of VEGF and reduced cytokine-induced apoptosis. In conclusion, we demonstrate a direct inhibitory effect of TSP-1 on VEGF in the ovary. TSP-1's regulation of VEGF appears to be an important mediator of ovarian angiogenesis and follicle development.
Copyright 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.