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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 19, 2017

Vasculogenesis and angiogenesis initiation under normoxic conditions through Wnt/β-catenin pathway in gliomas

  • Alexandre Vallée ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Rémy Guillevin and Jean-Noël Vallée


The canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway is up-regulated in gliomas and involved in proliferation, invasion, apoptosis, vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. Nuclear β-catenin accumulation correlates with malignancy. Hypoxia activates hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α by inhibiting HIF-1α prolyl hydroxylation, which promotes glycolytic energy metabolism, vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, whereas HIF-1α is degraded by the HIF prolyl hydroxylase under normoxic conditions. We focus this review on the links between the activated Wnt/β-catenin pathway and the mechanisms underlying vasculogenesis and angiogenesis through HIF-1α under normoxic conditions in gliomas. Wnt-induced epidermal growth factor receptor/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling, Wnt-induced signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling, and Wnt/β-catenin target gene transduction (c-Myc) can activate HIF-1α in a hypoxia-independent manner. The PI3K/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin pathway activates HIF-1α through eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 and STAT3. The β-catenin/T-cell factor 4 complex directly binds to STAT3 and activates HIF-1α, which up-regulates the Wnt/β-catenin target genes cyclin D1 and c-Myc in a positive feedback loop. Phosphorylated STAT3 by interleukin-6 or leukemia inhibitory factor activates HIF-1α even under normoxic conditions. The activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway induces, via the Wnt target genes c-Myc and cyclin D1 or via HIF-1α, gene transactivation encoding aerobic glycolysis enzymes, such as glucose transporter, hexokinase 2, pyruvate kinase M2, pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1 and lactate dehydrogenase-A, leading to lactate production, as the primary alternative of ATP, at all oxygen levels, even in normoxic conditions. Lactate released by glioma cells via the monocarboxylate lactate transporter-1 up-regulated by HIF-1α and lactate anion activates HIF-1α in normoxic endothelial cells by inhibiting HIF-1α prolyl hydroxylation and preventing HIF labeling by the von Hippel-Lindau protein. Increased lactate with acid environment and HIF-1α overexpression induce the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis under normoxic conditions. Hypoxia and acidic pH have no synergistic effect on VEGF transcription.

  1. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationship that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


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Received: 2017-05-09
Accepted: 2017-06-25
Published Online: 2017-08-19
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

©2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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