Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a crucial pro-angiogenic component in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), and its high expression levels have been correlated with poor prognosis and early postoperative recurrence. We have recently shown that high levels of angiotensin II (AngII) type 1 receptor (AT1R) correlate and colocalize with VEGF in invasive PDA and that AngII induces VEGF expression in PDA cell lines. In this study, we explored the signaling mechanisms involved in the AngII-mediated VEGF induction and correlated AT1R and VEGF expression in noninvasive precursor lesions. An AT1R antagonist significantly (p∈<∈0.05) inhibited the AngII-mediated induction of VEGF messenger RNA and protein in all PDA cell lines. AngII-VEGF induction was inhibited by the tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein, suggesting a mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling mechanism. AngII activated the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), but not p38 or c-Jun NH2-terminal MAP kinases. Inhibition of ERK1/2 activation reduced the AngII-induced VEGF synthesis. Immunohistochemical analysis of precursor lesions showed increased expression of AT1R in most ductal cells undergoing metaplasia. Pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasms showed more intense AT1R staining when compared to intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms, which showed heterogeneous immunoreactivity. VEGF followed the same distribution pattern of AT1R in both lesions. AT1R expression in the premalignant pancreatic lesions suggests its involvement in tumor progression and angiogenesis. Our mechanistic findings provide the first insight into an AngII-initiated signaling pathway that regulates PDA angiogenesis. An AT1R-mediated VEGF induction suggests the possibility of AT1R blockade as a novel therapeutic strategy to control angiogenesis in PDA.
- Angiotensin II
- Pancreatic cancer
- Vascular endothelial growth factor
ASJC Scopus subject areas