We explore the involvement of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α)-converting enzyme (TACE) in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor 2 (VEGFR2) (VEGF-A/VEGFR2)-mediated angiogenesis in Sjögrens syndrome (SS), one of the most common autoimmune rheumatic diseases. To test the hypothesis that SS autoantibodies (Abs) regulate VEGF-A/VEGFR2 expression by a TACE-dependent nuclear factor-B (NF-κB) activation pathway, their effects on the expression and activation of the VEGF-A/TACE/VEGFR2/NF-κB pathway were determined in human salivary gland epithelial cells (SGEC). An enhanced angiogenesis in SS salivary gland biopsies was observed, associated with an increased VEGF-A expression and activation of VEGF-A/VEGFR2 signaling. Human cytokine array analysis of the pro-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic protein response in SGEC treated with SS Abs revealed an overexpression of multiple pro-angiogenic factors. TACE RNA knockdown, the use of anti-VEGF-A monoclonal antibody and the inhibition of NF-κB activity significantly abrogated the release of pro-angiogenic factors, demonstrating that VEGF-A/TACE/VEGFR2/NF-κB axis dysfunction may be contributory to pathogenesis and exacerbation of this autoimmune condition.
- Sjögren's syndrome
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