COLUMBUS, Ohio Scientists have discovered a new biological pathway that may be useful in regulating angiogenesis, the process the body uses to build new blood vessels. The findings, published in the December issue of the journal Immunity, may offer clinicians a new way to intervene in a broad range of diseases and disorders, including cancer, heart and lung disease, wound healing and transplantation.
Angiogenesis is a normal function in the body, but it's not always helpful. For example, while it is critical to normal embryonic development and beneficial in wound healing and recovery from heart disease, it can be harmful when it creates new feeder lines that help cancerous tumors grow and spread.
Investigators in The Ohio State University Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute say angiogenesis appears to be manageable by stimulating monocytes certain white blood cells in the immune system with high doses of a naturally occurring growth factor in the body called GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor).
GM-CSF stimulates monocytes to produce soluble receptors for VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), the substance tumors secrete to signal nearby blood vessels to build connectors to them.
"When tumors reach a certain size, they need more oxygen and nutrients to continue to grow. New blood vessels play an important role in tumor metastases, and it is the tumor's production of VEGF that is the key driver of new blood vessel formation," says Clay Marsh, director of the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine in the department of internal medicine at Ohio State and senior author of the study.
But he says that soluble VEGF receptors produced by the stimulated monocytes act like sponges, soaking up all of the available VEGF, so the signal to build new blood vessels never gets through.
"In essence, we think we have found a new way to block angiogenesis," says Marsh.
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Contact: Michelle Gailiun
Ohio State University
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