Cholesterol sets off chaotic blood vessel growth

Cholesterol sets off chaotic blood vessel growth
This shows disorganized blood vessels shown in AIBP knockdown zebrafish: Green, endothelial cells; red, fluorescent dextran injected to visualize the blood vessel lumen. Credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine

A study at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine identified a protein that is responsible for regulating blood vessel growth by mediating the efficient removal of cholesterol from the cells. Unregulated development of blood vessels can feed the growth of tumors.

The work, led by Yury Miller, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego, will be published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature on May 29.

Cholesterol is a structural component of the cell and is indispensable for normal cellular function, although its excess often leads to abnormal proliferation, migration, inflammatory responses or cell death. The researchers studied how the removal of cholesterol from endothelial cells (cells that line the blood vessels) impacts the development of new blood vessels, the process called angiogenesis.

According to Miller, removal of excess cholesterol from endothelial cells is essential for restraining excessive growth of blood vessels.

"Too much cholesterol increases the abundance of , areas in the where initiate signaling events leading to angiogenesis," Miller said. VEGFR2 is such a receptor, playing a central role in the development of blood vessels. Research into the process of angiogenesis suggests that VEGF-induced signaling within endothelial cells is important to tumor growth.

In this study, the scientists show that apoA-I (AIBP) is secreted by surrounding tissues and facilitates cholesterol removal from . This process interferes with the VEGFR2 receptor function, in turn inhibiting angiogenesis.

"Studying the process in zebrafish, we found that the timing and the pattern of AIBP expression is such that it helps guide segmental arteries to grow strictly in the dorsal direction, instead of an aberrant sideways direction," said first author Longhou Fang, who added that future studies will explore if AIBP or its derivatives can be used to inhibit pathologic angiogenesis in tumors. Alternatively, blocking AIBP activity in the heart may, in principle, stimulate re-growth of blood vessels after a heart attack.

More information: Control of angiogenesis by AIBP-mediated cholesterol efflux, DOI: 10.1038/nature12166

Related Stories

Study finds an on-off switch for angiogenesis

Apr 27, 2012

Scientists from the MIRA and MESA+ research institutes at the University of Twente (The Netherlands) have discovered an ‘on/off switch’ for angiogenesis in human tissue. Their research has shown ...

Lymphatic vasculature: A cholesterol removal system

Mar 25, 2013

Reverse cholesterol transport is a process in which accumulated cholesterol is removed from tissues, including the artery wall, and transported back to the liver for excretion. Little is known about how cholesterol is removed ...

Dual effect on tumor blood vessels

May 31, 2012

Angiogenesis is considered to be a major target of new cancer treatments. Angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) is one of the key regulators of angiogenesis. Scientists of the German Cancer Research Center and Medical Faculty Mannheim, ...

Recommended for you

Strategy proposed for preventing diseases of aging

6 hours ago

Medicine focuses almost entirely on fighting chronic diseases in a piecemeal fashion as symptoms develop. Instead, more efforts should be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to prevent ...

User comments