Genetic depletion of macrophages in Polyoma Middle T oncoprotein (PyMT)-induced mammary tumors in mice delayed the angiogenic switch and the progression to malignancy. To determine whether vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) produced by tumor-associated macrophages regulated the onset of the angiogenic switch, a genetic approach was used to restore expression of VEGF-A into tumors at the benign stages. This stimulated formation of a high-density vessel network and in macrophage-depleted mice, was followed by accelerated tumor progression. The expression of VEGF-A led to a massive infiltration into the tumor of leukocytes that were mostly macrophages. This study suggests that macrophage-produced VEGF regulates malignant progression through stimulating tumor angiogenesis, leukocytic infiltration and tumor cell invasion.
Keywords: PyMT; VEGF; angiogenesis; macrophages; malignancy; mammary; mouse; progression; transgenic; tumor.