Secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor by oral squamous cell carcinoma cells skews endothelial cells to suppress T-cell functions

Hum Immunol. 2009 Jun;70(6):375-82. doi: 10.1016/j.humimm.2009.01.014. Epub 2009 Feb 12.


Patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) have severe defects in antitumor immune function. Endothelial cells are potential regulators of immune cell function and have therefore been examined to determine their role in tumor-induced immune suppression. The present studies demonstrated that supernatants from endothelial cells exposed to OSCC-conditioned media (endo(OSCC-sup)) exhibited elevated levels of the immune suppressive products prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) compared with supernatants from endothelial cells treated with medium alone (endo(medium)) or with keratinocyte-conditioned medium (endo(ker-sup)). Antibody neutralization of OSCC-derived VEGF prevented tumor-conditioned media from inducing endothelial cells to increase production of PGE(2)and VEGF. Furthermore, treatment of T-cells with supernatants from endo(OSCC-sup) resulted in diminished T-cell proliferation and decreased interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production compared with T-cells treated with medium or supernatants from endo(medium) or endo(ker-sup) controls. T-cell levels of granzyme B and perforin were reduced after treatment with supernatant from endo(OSCC-sup) compared with control treatments. The addition of VEGF neutralizing antibody to the OSCC-conditioned medium prevented endothelial cells from being skewed to downregulate T-cell proliferation and production of IFN-gamma, perforin, and granzyme B. Taken together, these studies provide support for the use of VEGF-targeting therapies as an immunotherapeutic agent to block induction of immune suppressive endothelial cells in patients with OSCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis
  • Down-Regulation
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Granzymes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Microcirculation
  • Mouth Neoplasms / immunology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Perforin / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / pharmacology


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Perforin
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Granzymes
  • Dinoprostone