VEGF-D is the strongest angiogenic and lymphangiogenic effector among VEGFs delivered into skeletal muscle via adenoviruses.Circ Res. 2003 May 30; 92(10):1098-106.CircR
Optimal angiogenic and lymphangiogenic gene therapy requires knowledge of the best growth factors for each purpose. We studied the therapeutic potential of human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family members VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D as well as a VEGFR-3-specific mutant (VEGF-C156S) using adenoviral gene transfer in rabbit hindlimb skeletal muscle. The significance of proteolytic processing of VEGF-D was explored using adenoviruses encoding either full-length or mature (DeltaNDeltaC) VEGF-D. Adenoviruses expressing potent VEGFR-2 ligands, VEGF-A and VEGF-DDeltaNDeltaC, induced the strongest angiogenesis and vascular permeability effects as assessed by capillary vessel and perfusion measurements, modified Miles assay, and MRI. The most significant feature of angiogenesis induced by both VEGF-A and VEGF-DDeltaNDeltaC was a remarkable enlargement of microvessels with efficient recruitment of pericytes suggesting formation of arterioles or venules. VEGF-A also moderately increased capillary density and created glomeruloid bodies, clusters of tortuous vessels, whereas VEGF-DDeltaNDeltaC-induced angiogenesis was more diffuse. Vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation occurred in regions with increased plasma protein extravasation, indicating that arteriogenesis may be promoted by VEGF-A and VEGF-DDeltaNDeltaC. Full-length VEGF-C and VEGF-D induced predominantly and the selective VEGFR-3 ligand VEGF-C156S exclusively lymphangiogenesis. Unlike angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis was not dependent on nitric oxide. The VEGFR-1 ligand VEGF-B did not promote either angiogenesis or lymphangiogenesis. Finally, we found a positive correlation between capillary size and vascular permeability. This study compares, for the first time, angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis induced by gene transfer of different human VEGFs, and shows that VEGF-D is the most potent member when delivered via an adenoviral vector into skeletal muscle.