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Delayed angiogenesis in aging rats and therapeutic effect of adenoviral gene transfer of VEGF

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We have studied an age-related impairment in angiogenesis and evaluated the effect of overexpressing VEGF in this situation. Polyvinyl alcohol sponges were implanted subcutaneously into aged (24-month), adult (12-month), and young (2-month) rats. Blood vessel ingrowth and proliferative activity in the sponges were assessed by histology with immunostaining for von Willebrand's factor and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), respectively. The percentage of total sponge area filled with ingrowing fibrovascular tissue was minimal in aged rats, intermediate in adult rats and highest in young rats. A similar pattern was observed for the total blood vessel numbers in the sponges from old to young animals. The percentage of total sponge endothelial cells (ECs) showing proliferative activity (PCNA positive) was lowest in the aged animals, intermediate in the adult rats and highest in the young rats. To further explore the mechanism of impaired angiogenesis in aged animals, we investigated and found a reduced level of endogenous VEGF protein expression in 12-month-old rats compared to that in 2-month-old rats. VEGF121 gene transfer significantly enhanced blood vessel and fibrovascular tissue ingrowth in adult/aged rats. Adenoviral-VEGF gene transfer also significantly stimulated EC proliferation in aged and adult rats. However, identical treatment failed to further stimulate the already more robust angiogenesis in young animals. The different angiogenic response in adult vs. young rats was not due to differences in gene transfer efficiency, since similar levels of human VEGF121 protein was detected in adult and young rats. Our results indicate that the decreased angiogenic response with aging is associated with reduced EC proliferation and reduced endogenous VEGF production. Adenoviral-VEGF121 gene transfer is effective in augmenting angiogenesis, particularly in older animals.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Human Biomarker Center, TM&T, GlaxoSmithKline, 51N, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: April 1, 2004

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  • The International Journal of Molecular Medicine is a monthly, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the publication of high quality studies related to the molecular mechanisms of human disease. The journal welcomes research on all aspects of molecular and clinical research, ranging from biochemistry to immunology, pathology, genetics, human genomics, microbiology, molecular pathogenesis, molecular cardiology, molecular surgery and molecular psychology.

    The International Journal of Molecular Medicine aims to provide an insight for researchers within the community in regard to developing molecular tools and identifying molecular targets for the diagnosis and treatment of a diverse number of human diseases.
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