Angiogenesis is a hallmark of cancer, promoting growth and metastasis. Anti-angiogenic treatment has limited efficacy due to therapy-induced blood vessel alterations, often followed by local hypoxia, tumor adaptation, progression, and metastasis. It is therefore paramount to overcome therapy-induced resistance. We show that Apelin inhibition potently remodels the tumor microenvironment, reducing angiogenesis, and effectively blunting tumor growth. Functionally, targeting Apelin improves vessel function and reduces polymorphonuclear myeloid-derived suppressor cell infiltration. Importantly, in mammary and lung cancer, Apelin prevents resistance to anti-angiogenic receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) inhibitor therapy, reducing growth and angiogenesis in lung and breast cancer models without increased hypoxia in the tumor microenvironment. Apelin blockage also prevents RTK inhibitor-induced metastases, and high Apelin levels correlate with poor prognosis of anti-angiogenic therapy patients. These data identify a druggable anti-angiogenic drug target that reduces tumor blood vessel densities and normalizes the tumor vasculature to decrease metastases.
Keywords: Apelin-Apelin receptor; VEGF-VEGFR; anti-angiogenic therapy; therapy-induced resistance; tumor angiogenesis.
© 2019 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.