Modulating the hypoxia-inducible factor signaling pathway as a therapeutic modality to regulate retinal angiogenesis

M DeNiro, O Alsmadi, F Al-Mohanna
Experimental Eye Research 2009, 89 (5): 700-17
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) signaling cascade plays a critical role in angiogenesis by activating the transcription of genes encoding angiogenic growth factors. This study evaluated the effects of YC-1, a HIF-1 inhibitor, on the morphological, biochemical and molecular changes in human retinal microvascular endothelial cells. We found that YC-1 suppressed vascular endothelial cell proliferation, migration and tube formation, while it significantly increased the proteasome activity. Moreover, YC-1 induced a G(0)/G(1) cell-cycle arrest, whereas it exerted only an insignificant proapoptotic effects. Under normoxia or hypoxia, YC-1 did not alter the morphology or the cell viability. Additionally, under hypoxic conditions, YC-1 downregulated HIF-2alpha, VEGF, EPO, ET-1, and MMP-9 mRNA and protein levels, this was accompanied by a significant decrease in the MMP-9 activity. YC-1 decreased the basal expression of HIF-1alpha protein under normoxia, whereas it inhibited HIF-1alpha protein synthesis, stability, and nuclear translocation mechanisms under hypoxia. Furthermore, in a 3D collagen matrix model using mouse retinal explants cultured under normoxic and hypoxic conditions, YC-1; (1) inhibited outgrowth of new vessel sprouts; (2) reduced VEGF expression; (3) dramatically decreased the vessels immunoreactivities for CD31 and von Willebrand Factor (vWF); and (4) was highly effective in reducing the vascular density within the retina, compared to controls. These findings indicate that YC-1 possesses several antiangiogenic properties, both in vitro and ex vivo, which could be exploited as valuable therapeutic potentials to inhibit formation and the growth of new retinal vessels in the hypoxic retina.

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