Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the functional and therapeutic significance of pericytes in ovarian cancer vasculature.
Study design: Tumor vessel morphologic condition and efficacy of endothelial and pericyte targeting were examined with the use of in vivo ovarian cancer models. The expression of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) ligands and receptors was examined in endothelial, pericyte-like, and ovarian cancer cells.
Results: Relative to normal vessels, tumor vasculature was characterized by loosely attached pericytes in reduced density. PDGF-BB was expressed predominantly by the endothelial and cancer cells, whereas PDGFRbeta was present in pericyte-like cells. PDGF-BB significantly increased the migration of and VEGF production by pericyte-like cells; PDGFRbeta blockade abrogated these effects. Dual VEGF (VEGF-Trap) and PDGF-B (PDGF-Trap) targeted therapy was more effective in inhibiting in vivo tumor growth than either agent alone.
Conclusion: Aberrations in the tumor microenvironment contribute to endothelial cell survival. Strategies that target both endothelial cells and pericytes should be considered for clinical trials.