Nutlin-3, a nongenotoxic activator of the p53 pathway, dose-dependently (range 0.1 to 10 micromol/L) inhibited the formation of capillaries in an in vivo matrigel assay, as well as the formation of capillary-like structures in an in vitro coculture system composed of endothelial cells surrounded by fibroblasts. In contrast to the chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin, nutlin-3 showed no induction of apoptosis in vitro either in the cocultures or in isolated vascular endothelial cells, even when used at the highest concentration (10 micromol/L). However, treatment with pharmacological inhibitors of the nuclear factor kappaB and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathways sensitized endothelial cells to nutlin-3-induced apoptosis. Although nutlin-3 and doxorubicin induced a comparable p53 accumulation in endothelial cells, nutlin-3 was significantly more efficient than doxorubicin in upregulating the p53 target genes CDKN1A/p21, MDM2, and GDF-15, as well as in inhibiting cell cycle progression. However, the predominant in vitro effect of nutlin-3 was its strong antimigratory activity observed at concentrations significantly lower (0.1 micromol/L) than those required to inhibit endothelial cell cycle progression. Taken together, our data suggest that the antiangiogenic activity of nutlin-3 observed in vivo was mainly attributable to inhibition of endothelial cell migration, to some extent attributable to cell cycle arrest, and to a lesser extent attributable to induction of apoptosis.
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