Decreased efficacy of drugs targeting the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway by the epigenetic silencing of FLT1 in renal cancer cells

Jee Yeon KimJunha HwangSeo Hyun LeeHyo Jin LeeJaroslav Jelin다Hyeseon JeongJae Sung LimJin Man KimKyu Sang SongByung Hoon KimSukhoon LeeJei Kim
Dept. of Urology (비뇨의학)
Issue Date
Clinical Epigenetics, Vol.7(99) : 1-14, 2015
Background: The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-VEGF receptor (VEGFR) signaling pathway is involved in cancer-related biological functions and is a therapeutic target in cancer. However, the influence of epigenetic regulation of VEGF-VEGFR signaling-related genes remains unclear. Here, we evaluated the effects of FLT1 and KDR promoter hypermethylation combined with drugs targeting VEGF-VEGFR signaling on cancer-related phenotypes in renal cancer cells (RCCs) and examined changes in FLT1 and KDR promoter hypermethylation in tissues from patients with renal cancer. Results: In vitro experiments were performed to evaluate the effects of beavacizumab (an anti-VEGF antibody), an anti-FLT1 peptide, an anti-KDR antibody, and the VEGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) sunitinib and axitinib in 13 RCC lines with different levels of FLT1 and/or KDR promoter methylation and in 2 FLT1 or KDR in vitro knockdown models. The synergistic effects of sunitinib and axitinib treatment were also evaluated in four RCC lines having different levels of FLT1 and/or KDR methylation. In our in vitro experiments, bevacizumab and an anti-KDR antibody did not affect the proliferation of RCCs having FLT1 and/or KDR hypermethylation. In contrast, in RCCs with FLT1 hypermethylation, proliferation inhibition was counteracted by treatment with an anti-FLT1 peptide and both VEGF-TKIs (sunitinib and axitinib). Demethylation with sunitinib or axitinib synergistically increased proliferation inhibition in the RCCs exhibiting FLT1 hypermethylation. Using in vitro FLT1 or KDR knockdown models, decreased proliferation inhibition following anti-FLT1 peptide, sunitinib, and axitinib treatment was observed only in FLT1-knockdown cells. In patients with renal cancer who received sunitinib, FLT1 promoter methylation was higher in renal cancer tissues from eight nonresponders (stable or progressive disease assessed by the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors) than in cancer tissues from five responders (complete response or partial response). Conclusions: The present data showed that hypermethylated FLT1 was important for the efficacy of anti-VEGF/VEGFR drugs targeting FLT1 or intracellular VEGFR signaling. FLT1 hypermethylation causing alterations of FLT1 function could serve as a useful biomarker for predicting changes in FLT1 status in RCCs.
Vascular endothelial growth factorVascular endothelial growth factor receptorAnti-vascular endothelial growth factor antibodyTyrosine kinase inhibitorSunitinibAxitinibRenal cancer
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