Circulation research

Important role of erythropoietin receptor to promote VEGF expression and angiogenesis in peripheral ischemia in mice.

PMID 17293480


We have recently demonstrated that endogenous erythropoietin (Epo)/Epo receptor (EpoR) system plays an important protective role in hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension. However, it remains to be examined whether vascular EpoR system contributes to angiogenesis in response to ischemia. We examined angiogenesis in EpoR(-/-)-rescued mice that lack EpoR in most organs including cardiovascular system except erythroid-lineage cells. Two weeks after femoral artery ligation, blood flow recovery, activation of VEGF/VEGF receptor system, and mobilization of endothelial progenitor cells were all impaired in EpoR(-/-)-rescued mice as compared with wild-type (WT) mice. Bone marrow (BM) transplantation with WT-BM cells in EpoR(-/-)-rescued mice partially but significantly improved blood flow recovery after hindlimb ischemia. The extent of VEGF upregulation and the number of BM-derived cells in ischemic tissue were significantly less in EpoR(-/-)-rescued mice compared with WT mice even after BM reconstitution with WT-BM cells. Similarly, the recovery of blood flow was significantly impaired in recipient EpoR(-/-)-rescued mice that had been transplanted with WT-BM or EpoR(-/-)-rescued-BM as compared with recipient WT mice. Furthermore, the Matrigel implantation assay and aortic ring assay showed that microvessel growth in vitro was significantly reduced in EpoR(-/-)-rescued mice as compared with WT mice. These results indicate that vascular EpoR system also plays an important role in angiogenesis in response to hindlimb ischemia through upregulation of VEGF/VEGF receptor system, both directly by enhancing neovascularization and indirectly by recruiting endothelial progenitor cells and BM-derived proangiogenic cells.