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FEBS Lett. 1999 Jun 11;452(3):133-40.

Adaptive hypoxic tolerance in the subterranean mole rat Spalax ehrenbergi: the role of vascular endothelial growth factor.

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Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Israel.


Spalax ehrenbergi has evolved adaptations that allow it to survive and carry out normal activities in a highly hypoxic environment. A key component of this adaptation is a higher capillary density in some Spalax tissues resulting in a shorter diffusion distance for oxygen. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an angiogenic factor that is critical for angiogenesis during development and in response to tissue ischemia. We demonstrate here that VEGF expression is markedly increased in those Spalax tissues with a higher capillary density relative to the normal laboratory rat Rattus norvegicus. Upregulation of VEGF thus appears to be an additional mechanism by which Spalax has adapted to its hypoxic environment.

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