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Effect of steroid hormones and retinoids on the formation of capillary-like tubular structures of human microvascular endothelial cells in fibrin matrices is related to urokinase expression

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Author: Lansink, M. · Koolwijk, P. · Hinsbergh, V. van · Kooistra, T.
Institution: Gaubius Instituut TNO
Source:Blood, 3, 92, 927-938
Identifier: 234552
Keywords: Health · Aprotinin · Calcitriol · Capillaries · Cell Culture Techniques · Cells, Cultured · Drug Interactions · Endothelium, Vascular · Extracellular Matrix · Fibrin · Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 · Gene Expression Regulation · Gonadal Steroid Hormones · Humans · Male · Morphogenesis · Neovascularization, Physiologic · Plasmin · Polymerase Chain Reaction · Receptors, Cell Surface · Receptors, Retinoic Acid · Receptors, Steroid · Retinoids · RNA, Messenger · Steroids · Tissue Plasminogen Activator · Triiodothyronine · Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha · Urinary Plasminogen Activator


Angiogenesis, the formation of new capillary blood vessels, is a feature of a variety of pathological processes. To study the effects of a specific group of hormones (all ligands of the steroid/retinoid/thyroid hormone receptor superfamily) on the angiogenic process in humans, we have used a model system in which human microvascular endothelial cells from foreskin (hMVEC) are cultured on top of a human fibrin matrix in the presence of basic fibroblast growth factor and tumor necrosis factor-α. This model mimics the in vivo situation where fibrin appears to be a common component of the matrix present at sites of chronic inflammation and tumor stroma. Our results show that testosterone and dexamethasone are strong inhibitors and all-trans retinoic acid (at-RA) and 9-cis retinoic acid (9-cis RA) are potent stimulators of the formation of capillary-like tubular structures. These effects are mediated by their respective nuclear hormone receptors as demonstrated by the use of specific synthetic receptor agonists and antagonists. 17β-estradiol, progesterone, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 did not affect or only weakly affected in vitro angiogenesis, which may be related to the lack of significant nuclear receptor expression. Although hMVEC express both thyroid hormone receptors α and β, no effect of thyroid hormone on tube formation was found. The effects of testosterone, dexamethasone, at-RA, and 9-cis RA on tube formation were accompanied by parallel changes in urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) expression, at both mRNA and antigen levels. Exogenous suppletion of the medium with single chain u-PA enhances tube formation in our in vitro model, whereas quenching of u-PA activity (but not of tissue-type plasminogen activator activity) or of u-PA binding to u-PA receptor by specific antibodies suppressed basal and retinoid-stimulated tube formation. Moreover, addition of scu-PA to testosterone- or dexamethasone-treated hMVEC restored the suppressed angiogenic activity for a substantial part. Aprotinin, an inhibitor of plasmin activity, completely inhibited tube formation, indicating that the proteolytic properties of the u-PA/u-PA receptor complex are crucial in this process. Our results show that steroid hormones (testosterone and dexamethasone) and retinoids have strong, but opposite effects on tube formation in a human in vitro model reflecting pathological angiogenesis in the presence of fibrin and inflammatory mediators. These effects can be explained by hormone-receptor-mediated changes in u-PA expression, resulting in enhanced local proteolytic capacity of the u-PA/u- PA receptor complex.