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Am J Physiol. 1996 Jan;270(1 Pt 2):H411-5.

Nitric oxide mediates mitogenic effect of VEGF on coronary venular endothelium.

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  • 1Department of Preclinical and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Florence, Italy.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a secreted protein that is a specific growth factor for endothelial cells. We have recently demonstrated that nitric oxide (NO) donors and vasoactive peptides promoting NO-mediated vasorelaxation induce angiogenesis in vivo as well as endothelial cell growth and motility in vitro; in contrast, inhibitors of NO synthase suppress angiogenesis. In this study we investigated the role of NO in mediating the mitogenic effect of VEGF on cultured microvascular endothelium isolated from coronary postcapillary venules. VEGF induced a dose-dependent increase in cell proliferation and DNA synthesis. The role of NO was determined by monitoring proliferation or guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP) levels in the presence and absence of NO synthase blockers. The proliferative effect evoked by VEGF was reduced by pretreatment of the cells with NO synthase inhibitors. Exposure of the cells to VEGF induced a significant increment in cGMP levels. This effect was potentiated by superoxide dismutase addition and was abolished by NO synthase inhibitors. VEGF stimulates proliferation of postcapillary endothelial cells through the production of NO and cGMP accumulation.

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