The Journal of experimental medicine

Eph-B4 prevents venous adaptive remodeling in the adult arterial environment.

PMID 21339325


Eph-B4 determines mammalian venous differentiation in the embryo but is thought to be a quiescent marker of adult veins. We have previously shown that surgical transposition of a vein into the arterial environment is characterized by loss of venous identity, as indicated by the loss of Eph-B4, and intimal thickening. We used a mouse model of vein graft implantation to test the hypothesis that Eph-B4 is a critical determinant of venous wall thickness during postsurgical adaptation to the arterial environment. We show that stimulation of Eph-B4 signaling, either via ligand stimulation or expression of a constitutively active Eph-B4, inhibits venous wall thickening and preserves venous identity; conversely, reduction of Eph-B4 signaling is associated with increased venous wall thickness. Stimulated Eph-B4 associates with caveolin-1 (Cav-1); loss of Cav-1 or Eph-B4 kinase function abolishes inhibition of vein graft thickening. These results show that Eph-B4 is active in adult veins and regulates venous remodeling. Eph-B4-Cav-1-mediated vessel remodeling may be a venous-specific adaptive mechanism. Controlled stimulation of embryonic signaling pathways such as Eph-B4 may be a novel strategy to manipulate venous wall remodeling in adults.