Autocrine regulation of glioblastoma cell cycle progression, viability and radioresistance through the VEGF-VEGFR2 (KDR) interplay

Cell Cycle. 2008 Aug 15;7(16):2553-61. doi: 10.4161/cc.7.16.6442. Epub 2008 Aug 12.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a crucial role in angiogenesis and progression of malignant brain tumors. Given the significance of tumor microenvironment in general, and the established role of paracrine VEGF signaling in glioblastoma (GBM) biology in particular, we explored the potential autocrine control of human astrocytoma behavior by VEGF. Using a range of cell and molecular biology approaches to study a panel of astrocytoma (grade III and IV/GBM)-derived cell lines and a series of clinical specimens from low- and high-grade astrocytomas, we show that co-expression of VEGF and VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) occurs commonly in astrocytoma cells. We found VEGF secretion and VEGF-induced biological effects (modulation of cell cycle progression and enhanced viability of glioblastoma cells) to function in an autocrine manner. Morevover, we demonstrated that the autocrine VEGF signaling is mediated via VEGFR2 (KDR), and involves co-activation of the c-Raf/MAPK, PI3K/Akt and PLC/PKC pathways. Blockade of VEGFR2 by the selective inhibitor (SU1498) abrogated the VEGF-mediated enhancement of astrocytoma cell growth and viability under unperturbed culture conditions. In addition, such interference with VEGF-VEGFR2 signaling potentiated the ionizing radiation-induced tumor cell death. In clinical specimens, both VEGFRs and VEGF were co-expressed in astroglial tumor cells, and higher VEGF expression correlated with tumor progression, thereby supporting the relevance of functional VEGF-VEGFR signaling in vivo. Overall, our results are consistent with a potential autocrine role of the VEGF-VEGFR2 (KDR) interplay as a factor contributing to malignant astrocytoma growth and radioresistance, thereby supporting the candidacy of this signaling cascade as a therapeutic target, possibly in combination with radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autocrine Communication
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 / metabolism*


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2