Systemic Sclerosis Sera Impair Angiogenic Performance of Dermal Microvascular Endothelial Cells: Therapeutic Implications of Cyclophosphamide

PLoS One. 2015 Jun 15;10(6):e0130166. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130166. eCollection 2015.


In systemic sclerosis (SSc), dermal capillaries are progressively lost with consequent chronic tissue hypoxia insufficiently compensated by angiogenesis. Clinical studies reported that intravenous cyclophosphamide (CYC) may improve SSc-related peripheral microvascular damage. Recently, we showed that CYC treatment may normalize SSc sera-induced abnormalities in endothelial cell-matrix interactions. Our objective was to evaluate in vitro the effects of sera from treatment-naïve or CYC-treated SSc patients on dermal blood microvascular endothelial cell (dMVEC) angiogenesis, migration, proliferation and apoptosis. dMVECs were challenged with sera from 21 SSc patients, treatment-naïve (n = 8) or under CYC treatment (n = 13), and 8 healthy controls. Capillary morphogenesis on Geltrex matrix was significantly reduced upon challenge with sera from naïve SSc patients compared with healthy controls. When dMVECs were challenged with sera from CYC-treated SSc patients, their angiogenic capacity was comparable to that of cells treated with healthy sera. Wound healing capacity and chemotaxis in Boyden chamber were both significantly decreased in the presence either of naïve or CYC-treated SSc sera compared with healthy sera. WST-1 assay revealed that cell proliferation was significantly decreased in dMVECs challenged with sera from naïve SSc patients compared with healthy sera. Conversely, dMVEC proliferation was not impaired in the presence of sera from CYC-treated SSc patients. Accordingly, the percentage of TUNEL-positive apoptotic dMVECs was significantly higher in the presence of sera from naïve SSc patients than healthy controls, while CYC-treated SSc sera did not induce dMVEC apoptosis. Levels of the angiostatic mediators endostatin, pentraxin 3, angiostatin and matrix metalloproteinase-12 were all significantly elevated in sera from naïve SSc patients compared with sera from both healthy controls and CYC-treated SSc patients. In SSc, CYC treatment might boost angiogenesis and consequently improve peripheral microangiopathy through the normalization of the endothelial cell-matrix interactions, reduction of endothelial cell apoptosis and rebalance of dysregulated angiostatic factors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclophosphamide / pharmacology*
  • Dermis / drug effects
  • Dermis / metabolism
  • Dermis / pathology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / blood
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / pathology*
  • Wound Healing


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Cyclophosphamide

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.