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Circ Res. 2001 Jun 8;88(11):1135-41.

Vascular endothelial growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor differentially modulate early postnatal coronary angiogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and The Cardiovascular Center, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


The roles of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF [FGF-2]) in early postnatal regulation of coronary angiogenesis were investigated by administering neutralizing antibodies to these growth factors between postnatal days 5 and 12. Immunohistochemistry and Western blotting both revealed decreases in VEGF protein in the hearts of rats treated with either antibody. In contrast, bFGF mRNA increased in both treated groups, whereas VEGF mRNA was unchanged. Using stereological assessment of perfusion-fixed hearts, we found that both anti-VEGF and anti-bFGF inhibited the rapid and marked capillary growth that occurs during this time period and that the effects of the two neutralizing antibodies are not additive. Arteriolar growth, as indicated by a lower length density, was inhibited by anti-bFGF, but not anti-VEGF. When both anti-VEGF and anti-bFGF were administered, arteriolar length density was not significantly lower, but the population of small arterioles (<15 microm) was markedly reduced, whereas the percentage of large arterioles (26 to 50 microm) more than doubled. Thus, inhibition of both growth factors negated or limited the formation of small arterioles and facilitated an expansion of the largest arterioles. These in vivo data are the first to document that during the early neonatal period, (1) both VEGF and bFGF modulate capillary growth, (2) bFGF facilitates arteriolar growth, and (3) the two growth factors interact to establish the normal hierarchy of the arteriolar tree.

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