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Vasc Cell. 2013 Aug 29;5(1):15. doi: 10.1186/2045-824X-5-15.

Cardiac angiogenesis directed by stable Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA.



The heterodimeric, oxygen-sensitive transcription factor Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) orchestrates angiogenesis and plays a key role in the response to ischemia and the growth of cancers.


We developed a transgenic mouse line in which expression of an oxygen-stable HIF-1α construct was controlled by a tetracycline-responsive promoter. HIF-1α expression was induced for up to 28 days in adult mouse heart, resulting in angiogenesis and progressive ventricular dysfunction.


Gross inspection demonstrated enlarged hearts with large epicardial vessels with prominent side branches. Perfusion curves obtained by ultrasound contrast analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the myocardial red cell volume after 28 days of HIF-1α expression. Corrosion casts of cardiac vessels were made with a new low-viscosity resin that can fill the vasculature down to the level of the capillaries. Scanning electron microscopy of these casts reveal "lakes" of capillaries forming off of larger vessels after HIF expression, and support the rapid formation of mature neovascularization. Pro-angiogenic factors DLL-4, Notch-1, and PDGF-β, were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and Western blots, and support a pattern of progressive functional neoangiogenesis.


This study demonstrates the structural characteristics of HIF-directed angiogenesis and supports the utility of manipulation of HIF signaling to enhance perfusion and treat ischemia.

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