The role of vascular endothelial growth factor in the hypoxic and immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment: perspectives for therapeutic implications

Ryota Tamura, Toshihide Tanaka, Yasuharu Akasaki, Yuichi Murayama, Kazunari Yoshida, Hikaru Sasaki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The microvasculature and immune cells are major components of the tumor microenvironment (TME). Hypoxia plays a pivotal role in the TME through hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF-1α) which upregulates vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF, an angiogenesis stimulator, suppresses tumor immunity by inhibiting the maturation of dendritic cells, and induces immunosuppressive cells such as regulatory T cells, tumor-associated macrophages, and myeloid-derived suppressor cells. HIF-1α directly induces immune checkpoint molecules. VEGF/VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-targeted therapy as a cancer treatment has not only anti-angiogenic effects, but also immune-supportive effects. Anti-angiogenic therapy has the potential to change the immunological “cold tumors” into the “hot tumors”. Glioblastoma (GB) is a hypervascular tumor with high VEGF expression which leads to development of an immuno suppressive TME. Therefore, in the last decade, several combination immunotherapies with anti-angiogenic agents have been developed for numerous tumors including GBs. In particular, combination therapy with an immune checkpoint inhibitor and VEGF/VEGFR-targeted therapy has been suggested as a synergic treatment strategy that may show favorable changes in the TME. In this article, we discuss the cross talk among immunosuppressive cells exposed to VEGF in the hypoxic TME of GBs. Current efficient combination strategies using VEGF/VEGFR-targeted therapy are reviewed and proposed as novel cancer treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalMedical Oncology
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 1

Keywords

  • Hypoxia
  • Immune checkpoint molecule
  • Myeloid-derived suppressor cell
  • Regulatory T cell
  • Tumor microenvironment
  • Tumor-associated macrophage
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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