Half a century after the discovery of chromogranin A as a secreted product of the catecholamine storage granules in the bovine adrenal medulla, the physiological role for the circulating pool of this protein has been recently coined, namely as an important player in vascular homeostasis. While the circulating chromogranin A since 1984 has proved to be a significant and useful marker of a wide range of pathophysiological and pathological conditions involving the diffuse neuroendocrine system, this protein has now been assigned a physiological "raison d'etre" as a regulator in vascular homeostasis. Moreover, chromogranin A processing in response to tissue damage and blood coagulation provides the first indication of a difference in time frame of the regulation of angiogenesis evoked by the intact chromogranin A and its two major peptide products, vasostatin-1 and catestatin. The impact of these discoveries on vascular homeostasis, angiogenesis, cancer, tissue repair and cardio-regulation will be discussed.
To verify the effect of vasostatin-1 (VS-1), an anti-angiogenic fragment of chromogranin A, in the prevention of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) in an established mouse model of laser-induced ocular neovascularization.
Non-malignant cells found within neoplastic lesions express alanyl (membrane) aminopeptidase (ANPEP, best known as CD13), and CD13-null mice exhibit limited tumor growth and angiogenesis. We have recently demonstrated that a subset of bone marrow-derived CD11b(+)CD13(+) myeloid cells accumulate within neoplastic lesions in several murine models of transplantable cancer to promote angiogenesis. If these findings were confirmed in clinical settings, CD11b(+)CD13(+) myeloid cells could become a non-malignant target for the development of novel anticancer regimens.
Asparagine deamidation occurs spontaneously in proteins during aging; deamidation of Asn-Gly-Arg (NGR) sites can lead to the formation of isoAsp-Gly-Arg (isoDGR), a motif that can recognize the RGD-binding site of integrins. Ceruloplasmin (Cp), a ferroxidase present in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), contains two NGR-sites in its sequence: one exposed on the protein surface (568NGR), and the other buried in the tertiary structure (962NGR). Considering that Cp can undergo oxidative modifications in the CSF of neurodegenerative diseases, we investigated the effect of oxidation on the deamidation of both NGR-motifs and, consequently, on the acquisition of integrin-binding properties. We observed that the exposed 568NGR-site can deamidate under conditions mimicking accelerated Asn aging. In contrast the hidden 962NGR-site can deamidate exclusively when aging occurs under oxidative conditions, suggesting that oxidation-induced structural changes foster deamidation at this site. NGR-deamidation in Cp was associated with gain of integrin-binding function, intracellular signalling and cell pro-adhesive activity. Finally, Cp aging in the CSF from Alzheimer disease patients, but not in control CSF, causes Cp deamidation with gain of integrin-binding function, suggesting that this transition might also occur in pathological conditions. In conclusion, both Cps NGR-sites can deamidate during aging under oxidative conditions, likely as a consequence of oxidative-induced structural changes, thereby promoting a gain-of-function in integrin binding, signalling and cell adhesion.
Angiogenesis is fundamental to tumorigenesis and an attractive target for therapeutic intervention against cancer. We have recently demonstrated that CD13 (aminopeptidase N) expressed by nonmalignant host cells of unspecified types regulate tumor blood vessel development. Here, we compare CD13 wild-type and null bone marrow-transplanted tumor-bearing mice to show that host CD13(+) bone marrow-derived cells promote cancer progression via their effect on angiogenesis. Furthermore, we have identified CD11b(+)CD13(+) myeloid cells as the immune subpopulation directly regulating tumor blood vessel development. Finally, we show that these cells are specifically localized within the tumor microenvironment and produce proangiogenic soluble factors. Thus, CD11b(+)CD13(+) myeloid cells constitute a population of bone marrow-derived cells that promote tumor progression and metastasis and are potential candidates for the development of targeted antiangiogenic drugs.
The tumor microenvironment produces different types of stimuli capable of endowing tumor cells with an aggressive behavior that is characterized by increased motility, invasiveness and propensity to metastasize, gain of a tumor-initiating phenotype, and drug resistance. The following classes of stimuli have been reported to promote such a malignant phenotype: (i) solid- or fluid-induced stress; (ii) altered composition of the extracellular matrix; (iii) hypoxia and low pH; (iv) innate and adaptive immune responses; (v) antitumor drugs. The simultaneous presence of more than one of these stimuli, as likely occurs in vivo, may lead to synergistic interactions in the induction of malignant traits. In many cases, the gain of a malignant phenotype is not the result of a direct effect of the stimuli on tumor cells but, rather, a stimulus-promoted cross-talk between tumor cells and other cell types within the tumor microenvironment. This cross-talk is mainly mediated by two classes of molecules: paracrine factors and adhesion receptors. Stimuli that promote a malignant phenotype can promote additional outcomes in tumor cells, including autophagy and cell death. We summarize here the available evidence about the variables that induce tumor cells to take one or the other of these roads in response to the same stimuli. At the end of this review, we address some unanswered questions in this domain and indicate future directions of research.
Pattern seekers: For the two angiogenic relevant integrins ?5?1 and ?v?3, functionalized derivatives of the selective antagonists 1 and 2 could target and discriminate between tumor cells in?vivo based on their different integrin patterns and also delay tumor growth in?vivo. In addition, the first ?5?1-selective integrin antagonist that enables specific molecular imaging by positron emission tomography was developed.
Plasma chromogranin-A (CgA) concentrations correlate with severe cardiovascular diseases, whereas CgA-derived vasostatin-I and catestatin elicit cardiosuppression via an antiadrenergic/nitric oxide-cGMP mediated mechanism. Whether these phenomena are related is unknown. We here investigated whether and to what extent full-length CgA directly influences heart performance and may be subjected to stimulus-elicited intracardiac processing. Using normotensive and hypertensive rats, we evaluated the following: 1) direct myocardial and coronary effects of full-length CgA; 2) the signal-transduction pathway involved in its action mechanism; and 3) CgA intracardiac processing after ?-adrenergic [isoproterenol (Iso)]- and endothelin-1(ET-1)-dependent stimulation. The study was performed by using a Langendorff perfusion apparatus, Western blotting, affinity chromatography, and ELISA. We found that CgA (1-4 nM) dilated coronaries and induced negative inotropism and lusitropism, which disappeared at higher concentrations (10-16 nM). In spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs), negative inotropism and lusitropism were more potent than in young normotensive rats. We found that perfusion itself, Iso-, and endothelin-1 stimulation induced intracardiac CgA processing in low-molecular-weight fragments in young, Wistar Kyoto, and SHR rats. In young normotensive and adult hypertensive rats, CgA increased endothelial nitric oxide synthase phosphorylation and cGMP levels. Analysis of the perfusate from both Wistar rats and SHRs of untreated and treated (Iso) hearts revealed CgA absence. In conclusion, in normotensive and hypertensive rats, we evidenced the following: 1) full-length CgA directly affects myocardial and coronary function by AkT/nitric oxide synthase/nitric oxide/cGMP/protein kinase G pathway; and 2) the heart generates intracardiac CgA fragments in response to hemodynamic and excitatory challenges. For the first time at the cardiovascular level, our data provide a conceptual link between systemic and intracardiac actions of full-length CgA and its fragments, expanding the knowledge on the sympathochromaffin/CgA axis under normal and physiopathological conditions.
A growing body of evidence suggests that the efficacy of cytokines in cancer therapy can be increased by targeting strategies based on conjugation with ligands that recognize receptors expressed by tumor cells or elements of the tumor microenvironment, including the tumor vasculature. The targeting approach is generally conceived to permit administration of low, yet pharmacologically active, doses of drugs, thereby avoiding toxic reactions. However, it is becoming clear that, in the case of cytokines, this strategy has another inherent advantage, i.e. the possibility of administering extremely low doses that do not activate systemic counter-regulatory mechanisms, which may limit their potential therapeutic effects. This review is focused on the use of tumor vasculature-homing peptides as vehicles for targeted delivery of cytokines to tumor blood vessel. In particular, we provide an overview of peptide-cytokine conjugates made with peptides containing the NGR, RGD, isoDGR or RGR sequences and describe, in more details, the biological and pharmacological properties of NGR-hTNF, a peptide-tumor necrosis factor-? conjugate that is currently being tested in phase II and III clinical studies. The results of preclinical and clinical studies performed with these products suggest that peptide-mediated vascular-targeting is indeed a viable strategy for delivering bioactive amounts of cytokines to tumor endothelial cells without causing the activation of counter-regulatory mechanisms and toxic reactions.
Molecular targeting of drug delivery nanocarriers is expected to improve their therapeutic index while decreasing their toxicity. Here we report the identification and characterization of novel peptide ligands specific for cells present in high-risk neuroblastoma (NB), a childhood tumor mostly refractory to current therapies. To isolate such targeting moieties, we performed combined in vitro/ex-vivo phage display screenings on NB cell lines and on tumors derived from orthotopic mouse models of human NB. By designing proper subtractive protocols, we identified phage clones specific either for the primary tumor, its metastases, or for their respective stromal components. Globally, we isolated 121 phage-displayed NB-binding peptides: 26 bound the primary tumor, 15 the metastatic mass, 57 and 23 their respective microenvironments. Of these, five phage clones were further validated for their specific binding ex-vivo to biopsies from stage IV NB patients and to NB tumors derived from mice. All five clones also targeted tumor cells and vasculature in vivo when injected into NB-bearing mice. Coupling of the corresponding targeting peptides with doxorubicin-loaded liposomes led to a significant inhibition in tumor volume and enhanced survival in preclinical NB models, thereby paving the way to their clinical development.
Cancer progression involves the seeding of malignant cells in circulation and the colonization of distant organs. However, circulating neoplastic cells can also reinfiltrate the tumor of origin. This process, called "tumor-self seeding," can select more aggressive cells that may contribute to cancer progression. Here, using mouse mammary adenocarcinoma models, we observed that both tumor self-seeding and organ colonization were inhibited by chromogranin A (CgA), a protein present in variable amounts in the blood of cancer patients. Mechanism studies showed that CgA inhibited the shedding of cancer cells in circulation from primary tumors, as well as the reinfiltration of tumors and the colonization of lungs by circulating tumor cells. CgA reduced gap formation induced by tumor cell-derived factors in endothelial cells, decreased vascular leakage in tumors, and inhibited the transendothelial migration of cancer cells. Together, our findings point to a role for circulating CgA in the regulation of tumor cell trafficking from tumor-to-blood and from blood-to-tumor/normal tissues. Inhibition of the multidirectional trafficking of cancer cells in normal and neoplastic tissues may represent a novel strategy to reduce cancer progression.
The angiogenic switch is a fundamental process for many diseases and for tumor growth. The main proangiogenic stimulus is hypoxia, through activation of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1? pathway in endothelial cells (ECs). We have previously shown that the vasostatin-1 (VS-1) fragment of chromogranin A inhibits TNF-?-induced vessel permeability and VEGF-induced EC proliferation, together with migration and matrix invasion, which are all critical steps in angiogenesis. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of VS-1 on tumor angiogenesis. We found mouse mammary adenocarcinomas (TS/A), genetically engineered to secrete VS-1 (TS/A 1B8), to be characterized by reduced vascular density and more regular vessels, compared with nontransfected tumors [TS/A wild type (WT)]. Supernatants from TS/A WT cells, but not those from TS/A 1B8, generated tip cells and promoted the permeability of primary human umbilical vein ECs, via VE-cadherin redistribution and cytoskeletal disorganization. These effects were abrogated by mAb 5A8, a VS-1-blocking antibody. Furthermore, VS-1 inhibited hypoxia-driven EC morphological changes, VE-cadherin redistribution, intercellular gap formation, tube morphogenesis, and HIF-1? nuclear translocation in vitro. Our findings highlight a previously undescribed function of VS-1 as a regulator of tumor vascularization.
NGR-TNF is a derivative of TNF-? that targets tumor blood vessels and enhances penetration of chemotherapeutic drugs. Because of this property, NGR-TNF is being tested in combination with chemotherapy in various phase II and III clinical trials. Here we report that chromogranin A (CgA), a protein present in variable amounts in the blood of normal subjects and cancer patients, inhibits the synergism of NGR-TNF with doxorubicin and melphalan in mouse models of lymphoma and melanoma. Pathophysiologically relevant levels of circulating CgA blocked NGR-TNF-induced drug penetration by enhancing endothelial barrier function and reducing drug extravasation in tumors. Mechanistic investigations done in endothelial cell monolayers in vitro showed that CgA inhibited phosphorylation of p38 MAP kinase, disassembly of VE-cadherin-dependent adherence junctions, paracellular macromolecule transport, and NGR-TNF-induced drug permeability. In this system, the N-terminal fragment of CgA known as vasostatin-1 also inhibited drug penetration and NGR-TNF synergism. Together, our results suggest that increased levels of circulating CgA and its fragments, as it may occur in certain cancer patients with nonneuroendocrine tumors, may reduce drug delivery to tumor cells particularly as induced by NGR-TNF. Measuring CgA and its fragments may assist the selection of patients that can respond better to NGR-TNF/chemotherapy combinations in clinical trials.
Solid tumors are characterized by an abnormal architecture and composition that limit the uptake and distribution of antitumor drugs. Over the last two decades, drugs have been identified that improve the tumor uptake and distribution of drugs that have direct antitumor effects. We propose to refer to these drugs as promoter drugs, and as effector drugs to drugs that have direct antitumor effects. Some promoter drugs have received regulatory approval, while others are in active clinical development. This review gives an overview of promoter drugs, by classifying them according to their mechanism of action: promoter drugs that modulate tumor blood flow, modify the barrier function of tumor vessels, induce tumor cell killing, and overcome stromal barriers. Eventually, we discuss those that we feel are the main conclusions to be drawn from promoter drug research that has been performed so far, and suggest areas of future investigation to improve the efficacy of promoter drugs in cancer therapy.
Various peptide sequences have been discovered by selecting peptide-phage display libraries in vitro against specific receptors or in vivo in tumor-bearing animals. One class of these peptides is characterized by the presence of Asn-Gly-Asp (NGR), a structural motif that can recognize the endothelium and other cells of neoangiogenic vessels. Because of this property these peptides have been used by several investigators to deliver a variety of drugs, cytokines, nanoparticles, viruses and imaging agents to tumor blood vessels. Here we review the reports on these conjugates and discuss the structural, functional and stability properties of NGR embedded into different molecular scaffolds.
Aminopeptidase-N (CD13) is an important target of tumor vasculature-targeting drugs. The authors investigated its expression by immunohistochemistry with three anti-CD13 monoclonal antibodies (WM15, 3D8, and BF10) in normal and pathological human tissues, including 58 normal, 32 inflammatory, and 149 tumor tissue specimens. The three antibodies stained vessels in most neoplastic tissues, interestingly with different patterns. As a matter of fact, WM15 stained almost all intratumor and peritumor capillaries and only partially large vessels, whereas BF10 and 3D8 reacted with arteries and venules and to a lesser extent with capillaries. These antibodies also stained the stroma in about half of neoplastic tissues. In inflammatory lesions, the three antibodies stained vessels and stroma, whereas in normal tissues, they stained a small percentage of blood vessels. Finally, the three antibodies failed to stain endothelial cells of normal colon, whereas they reacted with activated human umbilical vein endothelial cells and with endothelial cells of colon adenocarcinoma vessels. Overall, WM15 was the most specific antibody for angiogenic tumor vessels, suggesting that it may be a good tool for detecting the CD13 form associated with the tumor vasculature. This finding may be relevant for CD13-mediated vascular targeting therapies.
This study is the first to report on vascular effect of the chromogranin A derived Vasostatin-I (CgA(1-76)) in vivo. Cardiovascular parameters were recorded in 29 rabbits with sympathetically decentralized right carotid vascular bed. The recombinant human STA CgA(1-78) (VS-1) was infused at 480 ?g/kg over 25 min. Group I was kept awake while groups II-V were anesthetized with Ketamine-xylazine. VS-1 was given alone in groups I-II while in presence of either phentolamine, phentolamine plus propranolol or hexamethonium in groups III-V. Serum VS-1 peaked at 2 ?g/ml (200 nM) before onset of vascular effects and declined rapidly to ~200 ng/ml within 30 min. In all groups but III and IV VS-1 induced a brief vasoconstriction, being larger in intact than in sympathetically decentralized beds. The VS-1 induced vasoconstriction was not altered by hexamethonium but was abolished by phentolamine. In presence of the ?-adrenergic blocker a long lasting vasodilatation, unaffected by propranolol, was apparent on both innervated and decentralized sides. In conclusion, VS-1 induced an ?-adrenoceptor-mediated vasoconstriction presumably brought about by noradrenaline release from sympathetic nerves when infused at a dose giving an initial serum concentration of ~200 nM. This initial vasoconstriction masked a persistent adrenoceptor-independent vasodilatation, consistent with previous reports from in vitro models.
Integrins are cell-adhesion receptors that mediate cell-extracellular-matrix (ECM) and cell-cell interactions by recognizing specific ligands. Recent studies have shown that the formation of isoaspartyl residues (isoAsp) in integrin ligands by asparagine deamidation or aspartate isomerization could represent a mechanism for the regulation of integrin-ligand recognition. This spontaneous post-translational modification, which might occur in aged proteins of the ECM, changes the length of the peptide bond and, in the case of asparagine, also of the charge. Although these changes typically have negative effects on protein function, recent studies suggested that isoAsp formation at certain Asn-Gly-Arg (NGR) sites in ECM proteins have a gain-of-function effect, because the resulting isoAsp-Gly-Arg (isoDGR) sequence can mimic Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD), a well-known integrin-binding motif. Substantial experimental evidence suggests that the NGR-to-isoDGR transition can occur in vitro in natural proteins and in drugs containing this motif, thereby promoting integrin recognition and cell adhesion. In this Commentary, we review these studies and discuss the potential effects that isoAsp formation at NGR, DGR and RGD sites might have in the recognition of integrins by natural ligands and by drugs that contain these motifs, as well as their potential biological and pharmacological implications.
Delivery and penetration of chemotherapeutic drugs into tumors are limited by a number of factors related to abnormal vasculature and altered stroma composition in neoplastic tissues. Coupling of chemotherapeutic drugs with tumor vasculature-homing peptides or administration of drugs in combination with biological agents that affect the integrity of the endothelial lining of tumor vasculature is an appealing strategy to improve drug delivery to tumor cells. Promising approaches to achieve this goal are based on the use of Asn-Gly-Arg (NGR)-containing peptides as ligands for drug delivery and of NGR-TNF, a peptide-tumor necrosis factor-? fusion protein that selectively alters drug penetration barriers and that is currently tested in a randomized Phase III trial in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Inflammation has been linked to the development of diabetic retinopathy (DR). Chromogranins A, B (CgA, CgB) and secretogranin II (SgII), are prohormones overexpressed in inflammatory diseases. The present study was conducted to evaluate the presence and processing of these prohormones in the vitreous of patients with DR (DV), compared with nondiabetic vitreous (NDV).
Chromogranin A (CgA) is an acidic glycoprotein belonging to a family of regulated secretory proteins stored in the dense core granules of the adrenal medulla and of many other neuroendocrine cells and neurons. This protein is frequently used as a diagnostic and prognostic serum marker for a range of neuroendocrine tumors. Circulating CgA is also increased in patients with other diseases, including subpopulations of patients with non-neuroendocrine tumors, with important prognostic implications. A growing body of evidence suggests that CgA is more than a diagnostic/prognostic marker for cancer patients. Indeed, results of in vitro experiments and in vivo studies in animal models suggest that this protein and its fragments can affect several elements of the tumor microenvironment, including fibroblasts and endothelial cells. In this article, recent findings implicating CgA as a modulator of the tumor microenvironment and suggesting that abnormal secretion of CgA could play important roles in tumor progression and response to therapy in cancer patients are reviewed and discussed.
Standard treatments for nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC), such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, often lead to disappointing results. Unfortunately, also the various immunotherapeutic approaches so far tested have not produced satisfactory results to be widely applied in the clinical practice. However, the recent development of new immunomodulatory agents may open promising therapeutic options. This paper focuses on PF3512676, lenalidomide, and NGR-TNF, that is, drugs belonging to three different classes of immunomodulatory agents, that are also capable to affect tumor blood vessels with different mechanisms, and discusses the potential role of such agents in NSCLC treatment strategy.
The therapeutic index of anti-cancer drugs is increased when encapsulating them in tumor-targeted liposomes. Liposome-entrapped doxorubicin (DXR), targeting the tumor vasculature marker, aminopeptidase N (APN), displayed enhanced anti-tumor effects and prolonged survival in human neuroblastoma (NB)-bearing mice. Here we exploited a peptide ligand of aminopeptidase A (APA), discovered by phage display technology for delivery of liposomal DXR to perivascular tumor cells. Immunohistochemistry, performed in NB-bearing mice, showed APA expression in the vascular wall of NB primary and metastatic lesions. APA-targeted peptides displayed specific binding to APA-transfected cells in vitro, and also accumulation in the tumor of NB-bearing mice. Consequently, novel, APA-targeted, DXR-liposomes were developed and in vivo proof-of-principle was established, alone and in combination with APN-targeted DXR-loaded liposomes, in NB-bearing mice. Mice receiving APA-targeted liposomal DXR exhibited an increased life span in comparison to control mice, but to a lesser extent relative to that in mice treated with APN-targeted formulation, moreover the greatest increase in TUNEL-positive tumor cells was observed in animals treated with APN-targeted formulations. Mice treated with a combination of APA- and APN-targeted, liposomal DXR had a significant increase in life span compared to each treatment administered separately. There was a significant increase in the level of apoptosis in the tumors of mice on the combination therapy, and a pronounced destruction of the tumor vasculature with nearly total ablation of endothelial cells and pericytes. The availability of novel ligands binding to additional tumor vasculature-associated antigens will allow the design of sophisticated combinations of ligand-targeted liposomal anti-cancer drugs.
Fibroblast adhesion can be modulated by proteins released by neuroendocrine cells and neurons, such as chromogranin A (CgA) and its N-terminal fragment vasostatin-1 (VS-1, CgA(1-78)). We have investigated the mechanisms of the interaction of VS-1 with fibroblasts and of its pro-adhesive activity and have found that the proadhesive activity of VS-1 relies on its interaction with the fibroblast membrane via a phospholipid-binding amphipathic alpha-helix located within residues 47-66, as well as on the interaction of the adjacent C-terminal region 67-78, which is structurally similar to ezrin-radixin-moesin-binding phosphoprotein 50 (a membrane-cytoskeleton adapter protein), with other cellular components critical for the regulation of cell cytoskeleton.
Various NGR-containing peptides have been exploited for targeted delivery of drugs to CD13-positive tumor neovasculature. Recent studies have shown that compounds containing this motif can rapidly deamidate and generate isoaspartate-glycine-arginine (isoDGR), a ligand of alphavbeta3-integrin that can be also exploited for drug delivery to tumors. We have investigated the role of NGR and isoDGR peptide scaffolds on their biochemical and biological properties. Peptides containing the cyclic CNGRC sequence could bind CD13-positive endothelial cells more efficiently than those containing linear GNGRG. Peptide degradation studies showed that cyclic peptides mostly undergo NGR-to-isoDGR transition and CD13/integrin switching, whereas linear peptides mainly undergo degradation reactions involving the alpha-amino group, which generate non-functional six/seven-membered ring compounds, unable to bind alphavbeta3, and small amount of isoDGR. Structure-activity studies showed that cyclic isoDGR could bind alphavbeta3 with an affinity >100-fold higher than that of linear isoDGR and inhibited endothelial cell adhesion and tumor growth more efficiently. Cyclic isoDGR could also bind other integrins (alphavbeta5, alphavbeta6, alphavbeta8, and alpha5beta1), although with 10-100-fold lower affinity. Peptide linearization caused loss of affinity for all integrins and loss of specificity, whereas alpha-amino group acetylation increased the affinity for all tested integrins, but caused loss of specificity. These results highlight the critical role of molecular scaffold on the biological properties of NGR/isoDGR peptides. These findings may have important implications for the design and development of anticancer drugs or tumor neovasculature-imaging compounds, and for the potential function of different NGR/isoDGR sites in natural proteins.
Chromogranin A (CHGA) plays a catalytic role in formation of catecholamine storage vesicles and also serves as precursor to the peptide fragment catestatin, a catecholamine secretory inhibitor whose expression is diminished in the hypertensive individuals. We previously reported the hypertensive, hyperadrenergic phenotype of Chga-/- knockout (KO) mice and rescue by the human ortholog. In the present study, we compare two humanized CHGA mouse models. Into the Chga null background, by bacterial artificial chromosome transgenesis human CHGA transgene has been introduced. Both lines have the complete approximately 12 kbp CHGA gene integrated stably in the genome but have substantial differences in CHGA expression, as well as consequent sympathochromaffin biochemistry and physiology. A mouse model with longer-insert HumCHGA31 displays integration encompassing not only CHGA but also long human flanking sequences. This is in contrast to mouse model HumCHGA19 with limited flanking human sequence co-integrated. As a consequence, HumCHGA19 mice have normal though diminished pattern of spatial expression of CHGA, and 14-fold lower circulating CHGA, with failure to rescue KO phenotypes to normalcy. In the longer-insert HumCHGA31 mice, catecholamine secretion, exaggerated responses to environmental stress, and hypertension were all alleviated. Promoter regions of the transgenes in both HumCHGA19 and HumCHGA31 display minimal CpG methylation, weighing against differential "position effects" of integration, and thus suggesting that lack of cis elements required for optimal CHGA expression occurs in HumCHGA19 mice. Such "humanized" CHGA mouse models may be useful in probing the physiological consequences of variation in CHGA expression found in humans, with consequences for susceptibility to hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extracranial solid tumor in childhood and the most frequently diagnosed neoplasm during infancy. Despite of aggressive treatment strategies, the 5-year survival rate for metastatic disease is still less than 60% and, consequently, novel therapeutic approaches are needed. For increasing the therapeutic index of anticancer drugs, while reducing side effects, one of the most promising strategies in modern chemotherapy is based on the development of innovative drug delivery systems, such as liposomes. "Anticancer drug"-loaded liposomes have demonstrated enhanced ability to target to the affected area, as well as increased antitumor efficacy compared to conventional drugs. Liposomes tend to extravasate preferentially and to accumulate into tumor interstitial fluids, due to the defective structure of the new angiogenic vessels within the tumor masses. This inherent tumor selectivity can be increased further by coupling tumor-specific antibodies or other targeting moieties to the surface of the lipid envelope. Here, we describe the methodology used in these studies, as well as the antitumor results obtained by the use of several "anticancer drugs," encapsulated into antibody- and peptide-targeted liposomal formulations, against NB.
In this chapter we report on the characterization of linear antigenic sites of human chromogranin A (CgA), a useful tissue and serum marker for neuroendocrine tumours and a precursor of many biologically active peptides. The epitope mapping of CgA has been carried out by peptide microarrays on glass slides coated by a copolymer of N,N-dimethylacrylamide (DMA), N,N-acryloyloxysuccinimide (NAS) and [3-(methacryloyl-oxy) propyl] trimethoxysilyl (MAPS). The microarray support provided sufficient accessibility of the ligand, with no need for a spacer, as the polymer chains prevent interaction of immobilized peptides with substrate. In addition, the polymeric surface constitutes an aqueous micro-environment in which, despite peptide random orientation, linear epitopes are freely exposed. The results reported are in accordance with those obtained in conventional ELISA assays using biotinylated and non-biotinylated peptides.
Cytoskeleton scaffold in cardiac myocytes provides structural support and compartmentalization of intracellular components. It is implicated in cardiac pathologies including hypertrophy and failure, playing a key role in the determinism of contractile and diastolic dysfunctions. Chromogranin A (CgA) and its derived peptides have revealed themselves as novel cardiovascular modulators. In humans, normal CgA levels considerably increase in several pathologies, including heart failure. Recent data have shown on the unstimulated rat heart that human recombinant Vasostatin-1 (hrVS-1) and rat chromogranin A 1-64 (rCgA????) induce negative inotropic and lusitropic effects counteracting the ?-adrenergic-dependent positive inotropism with a functional non-competitive antagonism. This study investigates, on the isolated Langendorff perfused rat heart, whether cardiac cytoskeleton is involved in the modulation of contractility and relaxation exerted by hrVS-1 and rCgA????. Cytoskeleton impairment by either cytochalasin-D (actin polymerization inhibitor), BDM (myosin ATP-ase antagonist) or wortmannin (inhibitor of PI3-K/Akt transduction cascade), or W-7 (calcium-calmodulin antagonist) abolished hrVS-1 and rCgA????-mediated inotropism and lusitropism. Using fluorescent phalloidin, we showed on rat cardiac H9C2 cells that hrVS-1 (10 nM÷10 µM) stimulates actin polymerization. Taken together these data indicate that in the rat heart, the actin cytoskeletal network strongly contributes to the cardiotropic action of CgA-derived peptides.
TNF-alpha plays an important role in the natural history of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a systemic disease characterized by endothelial activation and synovial involvement with bone erosions. Neuroendocrine signals contribute as well to RA, but their role is poorly understood. We measured in 104 RA patients and in an equal number of sex- and age-matched, healthy controls the blood levels of chromogranin A (CgA), a candidate marker linking the neuroendocrine system to TNF-alpha-mediated vascular inflammation. CgA levels were significantly higher in patients with RA and remained stable over time. High levels of CgA were significantly associated with severe extra-articular manifestations, namely pulmonary fibrosis, rheumatoid vasculitis, serositis, and peripheral neuropathy. RA sera curbed the response of human microvascular endothelial cells to TNF-alpha, as assessed by the expression of ICAM-1, the release of MCP-1/CCL2, and the export of nuclear high-mobility group box 1; the effect abated in the presence of anti-CgA antibodies. The efficacy of the blockade was significantly correlated with the CgA concentration in the serum. The recombinant aminoterminal portion of CgA, corresponding to residues 1-78, had similar inhibitory effects on endothelial cells challenged with TNF-alpha. Our results suggest that enhanced levels of CgA identify patients with extra-articular involvement and reveal a negative feedback loop that limits the activation of endothelial cells in RA.
Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) have become a mainstay in tumor therapy. Clinical responses to mAb therapy, however, are far from optimal, with many patients presenting native or acquired resistance or suboptimal responses to a mAb therapy. MAbs exert antitumor activity through different mechanisms of action and we propose here a classification of these mechanisms. In many cases mAbs need to interact with immune cells to exert antitumor activity. We summarize evidence showing that interactions between mAbs and immune cells may be inadequate for optimal antitumor activity. This may be due to insufficient tumor accumulation of mAbs or immune cells, or to low-affinity interactions between these components. The possibilities to improve tumor accumulation of mAbs and immune cells, and to improve the affinity of the interactions between these components are reviewed. We also discuss future directions of research that might further improve the therapeutic efficacy of antitumor mAbs.
Angiogenesis, the formation of blood vessels from pre-existing vasculature, is regulated by a complex interplay of anti and proangiogenic factors. We found that physiologic levels of circulating chromogranin A (CgA), a protein secreted by the neuroendocrine system, can inhibit angiogenesis in various in vitro and in vivo experimental models. Structure-activity studies showed that a functional anti-angiogenic site is located in the C-terminal region, whereas a latent anti-angiogenic site, activated by cleavage of Q76-K77 bond, is present in the N-terminal domain. Cleavage of CgA by thrombin abrogated its anti-angiogenic activity and generated fragments (lacking the C-terminal region) endowed of potent proangiogenic activity. Hematologic studies showed that biologically relevant levels of forms of full-length CgA and CgA1-76 (anti-angiogenic) and lower levels of fragments lacking the C-terminal region (proangiogenic) are present in circulation in healthy subjects. Blood coagulation caused, in a thrombin-dependent manner, almost complete conversion of CgA into fragments lacking the C-terminal region. These results suggest that the CgA-related circulating polypeptides form a balance of anti and proangiogenic factors tightly regulated by proteolysis. Thrombin-induced alteration of this balance could provide a novel mechanism for triggering angiogenesis in pathophysiologic conditions characterized by prothrombin activation.
Abnormal tumor vasculature and endothelial cell anergy limit tumor/T-cell interactions. We have found that NGR-TNF, a tumor vasculature-homing derivative of TNF, selectively activates endothelial cells in neoplastic tissues and induces the release of chemokines that favor tumor infiltration by T cells, thereby enhancing the efficacy of active and adoptive immunotherapy.
A new cyclic peptide containing the isoDGR motif that, after coupling to albumin, selectively binds ?v?3, an integrin overexpressed in the tumor vasculature. IsoDGR-tagged albumin binds tumor vessels and can be exploited as a carrier for the preparation of tumor vasculature-selective nanomedicines, such as gold nanoparticles (Au) carrying tumor necrosis factor ? (TNF), a potent vascular damaging agent.
Chromogranin A (CGA) is released in the plasma during life-threatening illnesses. Its N-terminal 1-76 peptide, vasostatin-I (VS-I), has never been assessed in critically ill patients. Our aim was to examine whether the admission VS-I concentration has prognostic significance without having to specify a primary diagnosis.
Several classes of drugs that we refer to here as promoter drugs can improve tumor uptake and penetration of other drugs that we refer to as effector drugs, which exert direct antitumor effects. In this review we discuss the main therapeutic advantages that can be obtained by using promoter drugs. First, tumor-specific enhancement of effector drug accumulation but unaltered accumulation in normal tissues with improvement of the therapeutic index. Second, we propose that curbing tumor drug resistance is another important consequence of using promoter drugs. In particular, we discuss evidence suggesting that promoter drugs can (i) prevent induction of new resistance by paracrine factors released in response to effector drugs, and (ii) reverse existing drug resistance induced by mechanical cues and tumor-cell-extracellular-matrix interactions.
Chromogranin A (CgA), a secretory protein expressed by many neuroendocrine cells, neurons, cardiomyocytes, and keratinocytes, is the precursor of various peptides that regulate the carbohydrate/lipid metabolism and the cardiovascular system. We have found that CgA, locally administered to injured mice, can accelerate keratinocyte proliferation and wound healing. This biological activity was abolished by the Asp(45)Glu mutation. CgA and its N-terminal fragments, but not the corresponding Asp(45)Glu mutants, could selectively recognize the ?v?6-integrin on keratinocytes (a cell-adhesion receptor that is up-regulated during wound healing) and regulate keratinocyte adhesion, proliferation, and migration. No binding was observed to other integrins such as ?v?3, ?v?5, ?v?8, ?5?1, ?1?1, ?3?1, ?6?4, ?6?7 and ?9?1. Structure-activity studies showed that the entire CgA(39-63) region is crucial for ?v?6 recognition (K(i) = 7 nM). This region contains an RGD site (residues CgA(43-45)) followed by an amphipathic ?-helix (residues CgA(47-63)), both crucial for binding affinity and selectivity. These results suggest that the interaction of the RGD/?-helix motif of CgA with ?v?6 regulates keratinocyte physiology in wound healing.
Chromogranin A (CgA) is a member of the granins, a family of acidic proteins found in abundance in (neuro)endocrine cells (e.g., in chromaffin cells) and in some tumors. Like other granins, CgA has a granulogenic role in secretory granule biogenesis and is stored in these organelles. CgA is partially processed differentially in various cell types to yield biologically active peptides, such as vasostatin, pancreastatin, catestatin, and serpinins. In this review, we describe the roles of CgA and several of its derived peptides. CgA, which is elevated in the blood of cancer patients, inhibits angiogenesis and exerts protective effects on the endothelial barrier function in tumors, thus affecting response to chemotherapy. Recent studies indicate that the serpinins promote cell survival and myocardial contractility and relaxation. Other peptides such as pancreastatin were found to have significant effects on inhibition of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and glucose up-take, induction of glycogenolysis in hepatocytes, and inhibition of lipogenesis. In contrast, catestatin has opposite effects to that of pancreastatin in glucose metabolism and lipogenesis. Catestatin appears to also play a significant role in cardiac function, blood pressure regulation, and mutations in the catestatin domain of the CgA gene are associated with hypertension in humans.
Abnormal tumor vasculature impairs T lymphocyte adhesion to endothelial cells and lymphocyte extravasation into neoplastic tissues, limiting the therapeutic potential of both active and adoptive immunotherapies. We have found that treatment of tumor-bearing mice with NGR-TNF, a Cys-Asn-Gly-Arg-Cys peptide-TNF fusion product capable of altering the endothelial barrier function and improving drug penetration in tumors, associated with the intratumor upregulation of leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesion molecules, the release of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and the infiltration of tumor-specific effector CD8(+) T cells. As a result, NGR-TNF enhanced the therapeutic activity of adoptive and active immunotherapy, delaying tumor growth and prolonging survival. Furthermore, we have found that therapeutic effects of these combinations can be further increased by the addition of chemotherapy. Thus, these findings might be relevant for the design of novel immunotherapeutic approaches for cancer patients.
Vasostatin-1 (VS-1), the N-terminal fragment of chromogranin A (CgA), decreases the permeability of endothelial cells in vitro and in vivo.
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