Mathematical Model Predicts Effective Strategies to Inhibit VEGF-eNOS Signaling

J Clin Med. 2020 Apr 26;9(5):1255. doi: 10.3390/jcm9051255.


The endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) signaling pathway in endothelial cells has multiple physiological significances. It produces nitric oxide (NO), an important vasodilator, and enables a long-term proliferative response, contributing to angiogenesis. This signaling pathway is mediated by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a pro-angiogenic species that is often targeted to inhibit tumor angiogenesis. However, inhibiting VEGF-mediated eNOS signaling can lead to complications such as hypertension. Therefore, it is important to understand the dynamics of eNOS signaling in the context of angiogenesis inhibitors. Thrombospondin-1 (TSP1) is an important angiogenic inhibitor that, through interaction with its receptor CD47, has been shown to redundantly inhibit eNOS signaling. However, the exact mechanisms of TSP1's inhibitory effects on this pathway remain unclear. To address this knowledge gap, we established a molecular-detailed mechanistic model to describe VEGF-mediated eNOS signaling, and we used the model to identify the potential intracellular targets of TSP1. In addition, we applied the predictive model to investigate the effects of several approaches to selectively target eNOS signaling in cells experiencing high VEGF levels present in the tumor microenvironment. This work generates insights for pharmacologic targets and therapeutic strategies to inhibit tumor angiogenesis signaling while avoiding potential side effects in normal vasoregulation.

Keywords: Thrombospondin-1; cell signaling; differential equation modeling; tumor angiogenesis.