Activin A suppresses neuroblastoma xenograft tumor growth via antimitotic and antiangiogenic mechanisms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • E. Panopoulou
  • H. Rasmussen
  • E. Bagli
  • E. K. Rofstad
  • T. Fotsis

Colleges, School and Institutes


The tumor suppressor function of activin A, together with our findings that activin A is an inhibitor of angiogenesis, which is down-regulated by the N-MYC oncogene, prompted us to investigate in more detail its role in the malignant transformation process of neuroblastomas. Indeed, neuroblastoma cells with restored activin A expression exhibited a diminished proliferation rate and formed smaller xenograft tumors with reduced vascularity, whereas lung metastasis rate remained unchanged. In agreement with the decreased vascularity of the xenograft tumors, activin A inhibited several crucial angiogenic responses of cultured endothelial cells, such as proteolytic activity, migration, and proliferation. Endothelial cell proliferation, activin A, or its constitutively active activin receptor-like kinase 4 receptor (ALK4T206D), increased the expression of CDKN1A (p21), CDKN2B (p15), and CDKN1B (p27) CDK inhibitors and down-regulated the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2, the receptor of a key angiogenic factor in cancer. The constitutively active forms of SMAD2 and SMAD3 were both capable of inhibiting endothelial cell proliferation, whereas the dominant-negative forms of SMAD3 and SMAD4 released the inhibitory effect of activin A on endothelial cell proliferation by only 20%. Thus, the effects of activin A on endothelial cell proliferation seem to be conveyed via the ALK4/SMAD2-SMAD3 pathways, however, non-SMAD cascades may also contribute. These results provide novel information regarding the role of activin A in the malignant transformation process of neuroblastomas and the molecular mechanisms involved in regulating angiogenesis thereof.

Bibliographic note

M1 - 5


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1877-1886
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Cell
Publication statusPublished - 2005