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Circulation. 1998 Feb 3;97(4):381-90.

Potentiated angiogenic effect of scatter factor/hepatocyte growth factor via induction of vascular endothelial growth factor: the case for paracrine amplification of angiogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine (Cardiology), St Elizabeth's Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass 02135, USA.



Scatter factor/hepatocyte growth factor (SF/HGF) is a pleiotropic growth factor that stimulates proliferation and migration of endothelial cells (ECs) via the c-Met receptor, present on ECs as well as other cell types, including smooth muscle cells (SMCs). We studied the effects of recombinant human (rh) SF/HGF in vitro and in vivo in a rabbit model of hindlimb ischemia. We further compared these effects with those of recombinant human vascular endothelial growth factor (rhVEGF165), an EC-specific mitogen.


In vitro, rhSF/HGF and rhVEGF165 exhibited similar effects on proliferation and migration of ECs. When both cytokines were administered together, the result was an additive effect on EC proliferation and a synergistic effect on EC migration. Application of rhSF/HGF to cultures of human SMCs resulted in the induction of VEGF mRNA and protein. In vivo, administration of rhSF/HGF (500 microg x 3) was associated with significant improvements in collateral formation (P<.001) and regional blood flow (P<.0005) and with a significant reduction in muscle atrophy (P<.0001). These effects were significantly more pronounced than those of rhVEGF165 administered according to the same protocol (P<.05). Neither remote angiogenesis nor other pathological sequelae were observed with either rhSF/HGF or rhVEGF165.


The pleiotropic effects of certain growth factors may potentiate angiogenesis via a combination of direct effects on EC proliferation and migration and indirect effects that result in the generation of other potent EC mitogens from non-EC populations. The synergistic effects demonstrated when SF/HGF and VEGF are administered together in vitro may be reproduced in vivo by SF/HGF-induced upregulation of VEGF in vascular SMCs.

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