Circulation research

Bradycardia-induced coronary angiogenesis is dependent on vascular endothelial growth factor.

PMID 10417401


A marked coronary angiogenesis is known to occur with chronic bradycardia. We tested the hypothesis that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), an endothelial cell mitogen and a major regulator of angiogenesis, is upregulated in response to low heart rate and consequential increased stroke volume. Bradycardia was induced in rats by administering the bradycardic drug alinidine (3 mg/kg body weight) twice daily. Heart rate decreased by 32% for 20 to 40 minutes after injection and was chronically reduced by 10%, 14%, and 18.5% after 1, 2, and 3 weeks of treatment, respectively. Arterial pressure and cardiac output were unchanged. Left ventricular capillary length density (mm/mm(3)) increased gradually with alinidine administration; a 15% increase after 2 weeks and a 40% increase after 3 weeks of alinidine treatment were documented. Left ventricular weight, body weight, and their ratio were not significantly altered by alinidine treatment. After 1 week of treatment, before an increase in capillary length density, VEGF mRNA increased >2-fold and then declined to control levels after 3 weeks of treatment. VEGF protein was higher in alinidine-treated rats than in controls after 2 weeks and increased further after 3 weeks of treatment. Injection of VEGF-neutralizing antibodies over a 2-week period completely blocked alinidine-stimulated angiogenesis. In contrast, bFGF mRNA was not altered by alinidine treatment. These data suggest that VEGF plays a key role in the angiogenic response that occurs with chronic bradycardia. The mechanism underlying this VEGF-associated angiogenesis may be an increase in stretch due to enhanced diastolic filling.