Adenoviral expression of vascular endothelial growth factor-C induces lymphangiogenesis in the skin.
Enholm B., Karpanen T., Jeltsch M., Kubo H., Stenback F., Prevo R., Jackson DG., Yla-Herttuala S., Alitalo K.
The growth of blood and lymphatic vasculature is mediated in part by secreted polypeptides of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family. The prototype VEGF binds VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-1 and VEGFR-2 and is angiogenic, whereas VEGF-C, which binds to VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3, is either angiogenic or lymphangiogenic in different assays. We used an adenoviral gene transfer approach to compare the effects of these growth factors in adult mice. Recombinant adenoviruses encoding human VEGF-C or VEGF were injected subcutaneously into C57Bl6 mice or into the ears of nude mice. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that VEGF-C upregulated VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 expression and VEGF upregulated VEGFR-2 expression at 4 days after injection. After 2 weeks, histochemical and immunohistochemical analysis, including staining for the lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor-1 (LYVE-1), the vascular endothelial marker platelet-endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1), and the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) revealed that VEGF-C induced mainly lymphangiogenesis in contrast to VEGF, which induced only angiogenesis. These results have significant implications in the planning of gene therapy using these growth factors.