A chondrosarcoma is a common, primary malignant bone tumor that can grow to destroy the bone, produce fractures and develop soft tissue masses. Left untreated, chondrosarcomas metastasize through the vascular system to the lungs and ultimately lead to large metastatic deposits of the malignant cartilage taking over lung volume and function. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C has been implicated in tumor-induced lymphangiogenesis and elevated expression of VEGF-C has been found to correlate with cancer metastasis. bFGF (basic fibroblast growth factor), a secreted cytokine, regulates biological activity, including angiogenesis and metastasis. We have previously reported on the important role of bFGF in angiogenesis in chondrosarcomas. However, the effect of bFGF in VEGF-C regulation and lymphangiogenesis in chondrosarcomas is poorly understood. In this investigation, we demonstrate a correlation exists between bFGF and VEGF-C in tissue specimens from patients with chondrosarcomas. To examine the lymphangiogenic effect of bFGF, we used human lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) to mimic lymphatic vessel formation. We found that bFGF-treated chondrosarcomas promoted LEC tube formation and cell migration. In addition, bFGF knockdown inhibited lymphangiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. We also found that bFGF-induced VEGF-C is mediated by the platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) and c-Src signaling pathway. Furthermore, bFGF inhibited microRNA-381 expression via the PDGFR and c-Src cascade. Our study is the first to describe the mechanism of bFGF-promoted lymphangiogenesis by upregulating VEGF-C expression in chondrosarcomas. Thus, bFGF could serve as a therapeutic target in chondrosarcoma metastasis and lymphangiogenesis.
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