PloS one

Short Hairpin RNA Silencing of PHD-2 Improves Neovascularization and Functional Outcomes in Diabetic Wounds and Ischemic Limbs.

PMID 26967994


The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF-1α) is responsible for the downstream expression of over 60 genes that regulate cell survival and metabolism in hypoxic conditions as well as those that enhance angiogenesis to alleviate hypoxia. However, under normoxic conditions, HIF-1α is hydroxylated by prolyl hydroxylase 2, and subsequently degraded, with a biological half-life of less than five minutes. Here we investigated the therapeutic potential of inhibiting HIF-1α degradation through short hairpin RNA silencing of PHD-2 in the setting of diabetic wounds and limb ischemia. Treatment of diabetic mouse fibroblasts with shPHD-2 in vitro resulted in decreased levels of PHD-2 transcript demonstrated by qRT-PCR, higher levels of HIF-1α as measured by western blot, and higher expression of the downstream angiogenic genes SDF-1 and VEGFα, as measured by qRT-PCR. In vivo, shPHD-2 accelerated healing of full thickness excisional wounds in diabetic mice compared to shScr control, (14.33 ± 0.45 days vs. 19 ± 0.33 days) and was associated with an increased vascular density. Delivery of shPHD-2 also resulted in improved perfusion of ischemic hind limbs compared to shScr, prevention of distal digit tip necrosis, and increased survival of muscle tissue. Knockdown of PHD-2 through shRNA treatment has the potential to stimulate angiogenesis through overexpression of HIF-1α and upregulation of pro-angiogenic genes downstream of HIF-1α, and may represent a viable, non-viral approach to gene therapy for ischemia related applications.