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American journal of physiology. Cell physiology

Contribution of increased VEGF receptors to hypoxic changes in fetal ovine carotid artery contractile proteins.


PMID 23325408

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) can modulate smooth muscle phenotype and, consequently, the composition and function of arteries upstream from the microcirculation, where angiogenesis occurs. Given that hypoxia potently induces VEGF, the present study explores the hypothesis that, in fetal arteries, VEGF contributes to hypoxic vascular remodeling through changes in abundance, organization, and function of contractile proteins. Pregnant ewes were acclimatized at sea level or at altitude (3,820 m) for the final 110 days of gestation. Endothelium-denuded carotid arteries from full-term fetuses were used fresh or after 24 h of organ culture in a physiological concentration (3 ng/ml) of VEGF. After 110 days, hypoxia had no effect on VEGF abundance but markedly increased abundance of the Flk-1 (171%) and Flt-1 (786%) VEGF receptors. Hypoxia had no effect on smooth muscle α-actin (SMαA), decreased myosin light chain (MLC) kinase (MLCK), and increased 20-kDa regulatory MLC (MLC(20)) abundances. Hypoxia also increased MLCK-SMαA, MLC(20)-SMαA, and MLCK-MLC(20) colocalization. Compared with hypoxia, organ culture with VEGF produced the same pattern of changes in contractile protein abundance and colocalization. Effects of VEGF on colocalization were blocked by the VEGF receptor antagonists vatalanib (240 nM) and dasatinib (6.3 nM). Thus, through increases in VEGF receptor density, hypoxia can recruit VEGF to help mediate remodeling of fetal arteries upstream from the microcirculation. The results support the hypothesis that VEGF contributes to hypoxic vascular remodeling through changes in abundance, organization, and function of contractile proteins.