Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) blockers are used widely in clinics to target various types of human cancer. Although VEGF blockers exert marked tumor suppressive effects, the therapeutic effects can be limited. Moreover, accumulating evidence shows that VEGF acts not just on endothelial cells but also on various nonendothelial cells, including tumor and immune cells, suggesting a need to revisit the bona fide action of VEGF on endothelial cells using specific genetic mouse models. Herein, tamoxifen-inducible endothelial-specific knockout mice lacking VEGF receptor 2 (Vegfr2), the major signal transducer for VEGF, were used. The initial event resulting from cessation of endothelial Vegfr2 signaling was vascular truncation and fragmentation, rather than maturation of abnormalized vessels. Although deletion of endothelial Vegfr2 suppressed intratumor hemorrhage, it enhanced hypoxia in tumor cells and reduced the number of infiltrating cytotoxic T cells, suggesting a profound reduction in intratumor blood flow. In various tissues, deletion of endothelial Vegfr2 induced regression of healthy capillaries in intestinal villi, substantiating intestinal perforation, which is one of the most common adverse effects of VEGF blockade in humans. Overall, the data suggest that some of the known effects of VEGF blockers on tumor vessels are caused by partial cessation of VEGF signaling, or by actions on nonendothelial cells. The results increase the understanding of the mechanisms underlying anti-angiogenic therapy.
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