Neovascularisation is a key step in tumour growth and establishment of distant metastases. We have recently demonstrated that the thienopyridine SR 25989 an enantiomer of the anti-aggregant clopidogrel (Plavix) lacking anti-aggregant activity, inhibits endothelial cell proliferation in vitro by increasing the expression of endogenous thrombospondin-1, a natural potent inhibitor of angiogenesis. The anti-angiogenic effect of SR 25989 was further assessed in vitro in a quantitative assay of angiogenesis comprising a fragment of rat aorta embedded in a fibrin gel and in vivo in a pulmonary metastatic model using C57BL/6 mice inoculated in the foot pad with the highly metastatic melanoma cell line B16 F10. SR 25989 induced a dose dependent inhibition of spontaneous microvessel development in vitro reaching half maximal inhibition at around less than 50 microM and caused platelet derived growth factor induced angiogenesis to regress as a function of thienopyridine concentration. In vivo, SR 25989 did not alter significantly the growth rate of the primary tumour in the foot pad and did not inhibit development of inguinal nodes which appeared after amputation. However, the number and size of lung metastases were reduced in treated animals when examined at the time of sacrifice. In addition, the few metastases over 1 mm3 did not show any neovascularisation, as confirmed by negative von Willebrand immunostaining and in contrast to intense vascularisation seen in metastases developed by control mice. These results confirm that SR 25989 possesses potent anti-angiogenic properties and is able to inhibit metastatic dissemination and growth. The lack of effect on the primary tumour and inguinal nodes illustrates the complexity of the mechanisms involved in tumoural neo-angiogenesis and points out the possibility for distinct processes leading to neovascularisation in primary tumour as opposed to metastases.
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