Low-dose dopamine agonist administration blocks vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-mediated vascular hyperpermeability without altering VEGF receptor 2-dependent luteal angiogenesis in a rat ovarian hyperstimulation model

Gomez R, Gonzalez-Izquierdo M, Zimmermann R C, Novella-Maestre E, Alonso-Muriel I, Sanchez-Criado J, Remohi J, Simon C, Pellicer A,
Endocrinology. Nov. 2006 doi: 10.1210/en.2006-0657


No specific treatment is available for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), the most important complication in infertile women treated with gonadotropins. OHSS is caused by increased vascular permeability (VP) through ovarian hypersecretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-activating VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR-2). We previously demonstrated in an OHSS rodent model that increased VP was prevented by inactivating VEGFR-2 with a receptor antagonist (SU5416). However, due to its toxicity (thromboembolism) and disruption of VEGFR-2-dependent angiogenic processes critical for pregnancy, this kind of compound cannot be used clinically to prevent OHSS. Dopamine receptor 2 (Dp-r2) agonists, used in the treatment of human hyperprolactinemia including pregnancy, inhibit VEGFR-2-dependent VP and angiogenesis when administered at high doses in animal cancer models. To test whether VEGFR-2-dependent VP and angiogenesis could be segregated in a dose-dependent fashion with the Dp-r2 agonist cabergoline, a well-established OHSS rat model supplemented with prolactin was used. A 100 microg/kg low-dose Dp-r2 agonist cabergoline reversed VEGFR-2-dependent VP without affecting luteal angiogenesis through partial inhibition of ovarian VEGFR-2 phosphorylation levels. No luteolytic effects (serum progesterone levels and luteal apoptosis unaffected) were observed. Cabergoline administration also did not affect VEGF/VEGFR-2 ovarian mRNA levels. Results in the animal model and the safe clinical profile of Dp-r2 agonists encouraged us to administer cabergoline to oocyte donors at high risk for developing the syndrome. Prophylactic administration of cabergoline (5-10 microg/kg x d) decreased the occurrence of OHSS from 65% (controls) to 25% (treatment). Therefore, a specific, safe treatment for OHSS is now available.