Suppression of alpha-tocopherol ether-linked acetic acid in VEGF-induced angiogenesis and the possible mechanisms in human umbilical vein endothelial cells

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Alpha-tocopherol ether-linked acetic acid (α-TEA) has been reported to exhibit both anti-tumor and anti-metastatic activities in cell culture and animal studies. However, it is unclear whether α-TEA possesses anti-angiogenic effects. In this study, we investigated the effect of α-TEA on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced angiogenesis and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression both in vitro and ex vivo. We found that the α-TEA inhibited tube formation, invasion, and migration in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and that such actions were accompanied by reduced expression of MMP-2. α-TEA also inhibited ex vivo angiogenesis, as indicated by chicken egg chorioallantoic membrane assay. We further showed that α-TEA attenuated protein expression of VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2)-mediated p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38), phosphorylated p38, and focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Moreover, α-TEA (30 μM) significantly up-regulated protein expression of tissue inhibitors of MMP (TIMP)-2 (by 138%) and the metastasis suppressor gene nm23-H1 (by 54%). These results demonstrate that the anti-angiogenic effect of α-TEA both in vitro and ex vivo and its possible mechanistic action appears to involve the inhibition of MMP-2 level through VEGFR-2-mediated FAK and p38 signaling pathways and through up-regulation of TIMP-2 and nm23-H1 expression.Graphical abstractPossible mechanisms of α-TEA on inhibited angiogenesis of human umbilical vein endothelial cells.Brief summaryIn the present study, we have demonstrated that VEGF-mediated angiogenesis is significantly inhibited by α-TEA, and that this effect involves inhibition of MMP-2 level through VEGFR-2-mediated FAK and p38 signaling pathways related to invasion and migration.HighlightsThe anti-angiogenic effect and the mechanistic action of α-TEA were investigated.α-TEA significantly inhibited VEGF-mediated angiogenesis both in vitro and ex vivo.α-TEA down-regulated MMP-2 via VEGFR-2-mediated FAK and p38 signaling pathways.α-TEA up-regulated TIMP-2 and nm23-H1 expression in relation to invasion and migration.Further studies are warranted on the anti-angiogenesis potential of α-TEA.

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