Introduction: Heparin is known to efficiently attenuate metastasis in various tumour models by different mechanisms including inhibition of tumour cell contacts with soluble and cellular components such as inhibition of heparanase or P- and L-selectin. We recently showed that heparin efficiently binds to VLA-4 integrin in melanoma cells in vitro. Here we describe VLA-4 integrin as a mediator of melanoma metastasis that is inhibited by the low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) Tinzaparin.
Materials and Methods: sh-RNA-mediated knock-down of VLA-4 integrin in B16F10 murine melanoma cells (B16F10-VLA-4kd) was performed and cell binding characteristics were investigated in vitro. Experimental metastasis of B16F10-VLA-4kd and B16F10 cells and interference by Tinzaparin were analysed in mice.
Results: VLA-4 knock-down of B16F10 cells resulted in loss of VCAM-1 binding, but preserved the capacity to bind platelets through P-selectin. The observed reduced metastasis of B16F10-VLA-4kd cells confirmed the role of VLA-4 in this process. However, loss of melanoma VLA-4 function hardly further affected reduction of metastasis in P-selectin deficient mice. Tinzaparin treatment of mice injected with B16F10 and B16F10-VLA-4kd cells significantly reduced metastasis suggesting its potential to block both P- and L-selectin and VLA-4 in vivo. The use of N-acetylated heparin, which has no VLA-4 binding activity but blocks P- and L-selectin was less efficient than Tinzaparin in mice injected with B16F10 cells and B16F10-VLA-4kd cells.
Conclusion: These findings provide evidence that heparin inhibits experimental melanoma metastasis primarily by blocking VLA-4 and P-selectin.