Background: While lung adenocarcinoma patients can somewhat benefit from anti-angiogenic therapies, patients with squamous cell lung carcinoma (SQLC) cannot. The reasons for this discrepancy remain largely unknown. Soluble VEGF receptor-1, namely sVEGFR1-i13, is a truncated splice variant of the cell membrane-spanning VEGFR1 that has no transmembrane or tyrosine kinase domain. sVEGFR1-i13 is mainly viewed as an anti-angiogenic factor which counteracts VEGF-A/VEGFR signalling in endothelial cells. However, its role in tumour cells is poorly known. Methods: mRNA and protein status were analysed by Real-Time qPCR, western blotting, ELISA assay, proximity ligation assay or immunohistochemistry in human tumour cell lines, murine tumourgrafts and non small cell lung carcinoma patients samples. Results: We show that anti-angiogenic therapies specifically increase the levels of sVEGFR1-i13 in SQLC cell lines and chemically induced SQLC murine tumourgrafts. At the molecular level, we characterise a sVEGFR1-i13/β1 integrin/VEGFR autocrine loop which determines whether SQLC cells proliferate or go into apoptosis, in response to anti-angiogenic therapies. Furthermore, we show that high levels of both sVEGFR1-i13 and β1 integrin mRNAs and proteins are associated with advanced stages in SQLC patients and with a poor clinical outcome in patients with early stage SQLC. Conclusions: Overall, these results reveal an unexpected pro-tumoural function of sVEGFR1-i13 in SQLC tumour cells, which contributes to their progression and escape from anti-angiogenic therapies. These data might help to understand why some SQLC patients do not respond to anti-angiogenic therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research