Blocking heme oxygenase-1 by zinc protoporphyrin reduces tumor hypoxia-mediated VEGF release and inhibits tumor angiogenesis as a potential therapeutic agent against colorectal cancer

Chun Chia Cheng, Siao Syun Guan, Hao Jhih Yang, Chun-Chao Chang, Tsai Yueh Luo, Jungshan Chang, Ai Sheng Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Hypoxia in tumor niche is one of important factors to start regeneration of blood vessels, leading to increase survival, proliferation, and invasion in cancer cells. Under hypoxia microenvironment, furthermore, steadily increased hypoxia-inducible factor-1aα (HIF-1aα) is observed, and can increase vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression and promote angiogenesis. Zinc protoporphyrin (ZnPP), a heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) inhibitor, is potential to inhibit tumor proliferation and progression. However, the mechanism of ZnPP in inhibition of tumor is not completely clear. We hypothesize that ZnPP may modulate HIF-1aα through inhibiting HO-1, and then inhibit angiogenesis and tumor progression. This study aimed to dissect the mechanism of ZnPP in tumor suppression. Results: We observed the amount of VEGF was increased in the sera of the colorectal cancer (CRC) patients (n = 34, p <0.05). Furthermore, increased VEGF expression was also measured in colorectal cancer cells, HCT-15, culturing under mimicking hypoxic condition. It suggested that hypoxia induced VEGF production from cancer cells. VEGF production was significantly reduced from HCT-15 cells after exposure to HIF-1aα inhibitor KC7F2, suggesting that HIF-1aα regulated VEGF production. Moreover, we observed that the HO-1inhibitor ZnPP inhibited the expressions of HIF-1aα and VEGF coupled with cell proliferations of HCT-15 cells, suggesting that ZnPP blocked HIF-1aα expression, and then inhibited the consequent VEGF production. In the xenograft model, we also observed that the animals exposed to ZnPP displayed much smaller tumor nodules and less degree of angiogenesis with decreased expression of the angiogenesis marker, aαvβ3 integrin, compared to that in normal control. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that VEGF level in serum was elevated in the patients with CRC. The HO-1 inhibitor, ZnPP, possessed the properties of anti-tumor agent by decreasing HIF-1aα levels, blocking VEGF production, impairing tumor angiogenesis, and inhibiting tumor growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number219
JournalJournal of Biomedical Science
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 28 2016

Keywords

  • Angiogenesis
  • Heme oxygenase-1
  • Tumor hypoxia
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor
  • Zinc protoporphyrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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