Inhibition of VEGF-C Modulates Distal Lymphatic Remodeling and Secondary Metastasis

… Prior to the start of image acquisition, animal respiratory and heart rates were monitored using
a pulseoximeter (MouseOx system, Starr Life Sciences Corp), and anesthesia adjusted to ensure
similar physiological conditions between animals and across experiments. … Tumor-associated lymphatics are postulated to provide a transit route for disseminating metastatic cells. This notion is supported by preclinical findings that inhibition of pro-lymphangiogenic signaling during tumor development reduces cell spread to sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs). However, it is unclear how lymphatics downstream of SLNs contribute to metastatic spread into distal organs, or if modulating distal lymph transport impacts disease progression. Utilizing murine models of metastasis, longitudinal in vivo imaging of lymph transport, and function blocking antibodies against two VEGF family members, we provide evidence that distal lymphatics undergo disease course-dependent up-regulation of lymph transport coincidental with structural remodeling. Inhibition of VEGF-C activity with antibodies against VEGF-C or NRP2 prevented these disease-associated changes. Furthermore, utilizing a novel model of adjuvant treatment, we demonstrate that antagonism of VEGF-C or NRP2 decreases post SLN metastasis. These data support a potential therapeutic strategy for inhibiting distant metastatic dissemination via targeting tumor-associated lymphatic remodeling.

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