GDNF secreted from adipose-derived stem cells stimulates VEGF-independent angiogenesis

Zhaohui Zhong, Huiying Gu, Jirun Peng, Wenzheng Wang, Brian H. Johnstone, Keith L. March, Martin R. Farlow, Yansheng Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


Adipose tissue stroma contains a population of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) promote new blood vessel formation and stabilization. These adipose-derived stem cells (ASC) promote de novo formation of vascular structures in vitro. We investigated the angiogenic factors secreted by ASC and discovered that glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a key mediator for endothelial cell network formation. It was found that both GDNF alone or present in ASC-conditioned medium (ASC-CM) stimulated capillary network formation by using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and such an effect was totally independent of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) activity. Additionally, we showed stimulation of capillary network formation by GDNF, but not VEGF, could be blocked by the Ret (rearranged during transfection) receptor antagonist RPI-1, a GDNF signaling inhibitor. Furthermore, GDNF were found to be overexpressed in cancer cells that were resistant to the anti-angiogenic treatment using the VEGF antibody. Cancer cells in the liver hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a non-nervous related cancer, highly overexpressed GDNF as compared to normal liver cells. Our data strongly suggest that, in addition to VEGF, GDNF secreted by ASC and HCC cells, may be another important factor promoting pathological neovascularization. Thus, GDNF may be a potential therapeutic target for HCC and obesity treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36829-36841
Number of pages13
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • ASC-CM
  • Angiogenesis
  • GDNF
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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