Respiratory physiology & neurobiology

Expression of HIF-1alpha, VEGF and VEGF receptors in the carotid body of chronically hypoxic rat.

PMID 14609506


We examined the protein expression and localization of HIF-1alpha, VEGF, VEGF receptors in the carotid body (CB) of rats breathing 10% inspired oxygen for up to 4 weeks. The immunoreactivity (IR) of HIF-1alpha was distributed numerously in the nuclei of glomus (type-I) and other cells since hypoxia for 1 day, but was faint and scattered in the normoxic CBs. Cytoplasmic staining of the VEGF was intense in glomus cells of the hypoxic but not the normoxic group. The IR levels of HIF-1alpha and VEGF reached plateau at 4 weeks, and the IRs of VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 were strongly positive in the hypoxic group. Yet, the expression of VEGFR-1-IR was mild, whereas the VEGFR-2-IR was intense in normoxic CBs, suggesting an upregulation of VEGFR-1 but not VEGFR-2 in hypoxia. Hence, HIF-1 may activate the expression of VEGF and VEGFR-1 in the CB and the expression of VEGF in the chemoreceptors may play a paracrine role in the vascular remodeling during chronic hypoxia.