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Am J Pathol. Jun 1998; 152(6): 1667–1679.
PMCID: PMC1858441

Mouse model of angiogenesis.


Neovascularization of ischemic muscle may be sufficient to preserve tissue integrity and/or function and may thus be considered to be therapeutic. The regulatory role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in therapeutic angiogenesis was suggested by experiments in which exogenously administered VEGF was shown to augment collateral blood flow in animals and patients with experimentally induced hindlimb or myocardial ischemia. To address the possible contribution of postnatal endogenous VEGF expression to collateral vessel development in ischemia tissues, we developed a mouse model of hindlimb ischemia. The femoral artery of one hindlimb was ligated and excised. Laser Doppler perfusion imaging (LDPI) was employed to document the consequent reduction in hindlimb blood flow, which typically persisted for up to 7 days. Serial in vivo examinations by LDPI disclosed that hindlimb blood flow was progressively augmented over the course of 14 days, ultimately reaching a plateau between 21 and 28 days. Morphometric analysis of capillary density performed at the same time points selected for in vivo analysis of blood flow by LDPI confirmed that the histological sequence of neovascularization corresponded temporally to blood flow recovery detected in vivo. Endothelial cell proliferation was documented by immunostaining for bromodeoxyuridine injected 24 hours before each of these time points, providing additional evidence that angiogenesis constitutes the basis for improved collateral-dependent flow in this animal model. Neovascularization was shown to develop in association with augmented expression of VEGF mRNA and protein from skeletal myocytes as well as endothelial cells in the ischemic hindlimb; that such reparative angiogenesis is indeed dependent upon VEGF up-regulation was confirmed by impaired neovascularization after administration of a neutralizing VEGF antibody. Sequential characterization of the in vivo, histological, and molecular findings in this novel animal model thus document the role of VEGF as endogenous regulator of angiogenesis in the setting of tissue ischemia. Moreover, this murine model represents a potential means for studying the effects of gene targeting on nutrient angiogenesis in vivo.

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Selected References

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