Most anti-angiogenic therapies currently being evaluated target the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway; however, the tumor vasculature can acquire resistance to VEGF-targeted therapy by shifting to other angiogenesis mechanisms. Therefore, other therapeutic agents that block non-VEGF angiogenic pathways need to be evaluated. Here, we identified ferulic acid as a novel fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1) inhibitor and a novel agent with potential anti-angiogenic and anti-cancer activities. Ferulic acid demonstrated inhibition of endothelial cell proliferation, migration and tube formation in response to basic fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF1). In ex vivo and in vivo angiogenesis assays, ferulic acid suppressed FGF1-induced microvessel sprouting of rat aortic rings and angiogenesis. To understand the underlying molecular basis, we examined the effects of ferulic acid on different molecular components and found that ferulic acid suppressed FGF1-triggered activation of FGFR1 and phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-protein kinase B (Akt) signaling. Moreover, ferulic acid directly inhibited proliferation and blocked the PI3K-Akt pathway in melanoma cell. In vivo, using a melanoma xenograft model, ferulic acid showed growth-inhibitory activity associated with inhibition of angiogenesis. Taken together, our results indicate that ferulic acid targets the FGFR1-mediated PI3K-Akt signaling pathway, leading to the suppression of melanoma growth and angiogenesis.
Keywords: Akt; FGFR1; angiogenesis; ferulic acid; melanoma.