Inhibition of angiogenesis is a promising therapeutic strategy against cancer. In this study, we reported that ZLM-7, a combretastain A-4 (CA-4) derivative, exhibited anti-angiogenic activity in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, ZLM-7 induced microtubule cytoskeletal disassembly. It decreased VEGF-induced proliferation, migration, invasion and tube formation in endothelial cells, which are critical steps in angiogenesis. In vivo, ZLM-7 significantly inhibited neovascularization in a chicken chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model and reduced the microvessel density in tumor tissues of MCF-7 xenograft mouse model. ZLM-7 also displayed comparable antiangiogenic and anti-tumor activities associated with the lead compound CA-4, but exhibited lower toxicity compared with CA-4. The anti-angiogenic effect of ZLM-7 was exerted via blockade of VEGF/VEGFR-2 signaling. ZLM-7 treatment suppressed the expression and secretion of VEGF in endothelial cells and MCF-7 cells under hypoxia. Further, ZLM-7 suppressed the VEGF-induced phosphorylation of VEGFR-2 and its downstream signaling mediators including activated AKT, MEK and ERK in endothelial cells. Overall, these results demonstrate that ZLM-7 exhibits anti-angiogenic activities by impairing endothelial cell function and blocking VEGF/VEGFR-2 signaling, suggesting that ZLM-7 might be a potential angiogenesis inhibitor.
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