For malignant growth, solid cancers must stimulate the formation of new blood vessels by producing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A), which is required for the survival of tumor-associated vessels. Novel anticancer agents that block VEGF-A signaling trigger endothelial cell (EC) apoptosis and vascular regression preferentially within tumors, but how the ECs die is not understood. In this study, we demonstrate that VEGF-A deprivation, provoked either by drug-induced tumor shrinkage or direct VEGF-A blockade, up-regulates the proapoptotic BH3 (Bcl-2 homology 3)-only Bcl-2 family member Bim in ECs. Importantly, the tumor growth inhibitory activity of a VEGF-A antagonist required Bim-induced apoptosis of ECs. These findings thus reveal the mechanism by which VEGF-A blockade induces EC apoptosis and impairs tumor growth. They also indicate that drugs mimicking BH3-only proteins may be exploited to kill tumor cells not only directly but also indirectly by ablating the tumor vasculature.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy