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J Bone Miner Res. 2000 Mar;15(3):534-40.

Vascular endothelial growth factor is expressed in human fetal growth cartilage.

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Department of Pediatrics, Hospitals Vall d'Herbron, Barcelona, Spain.


Angiogenesis is a crucial event in endochondral ossification. Chemoattractants and mitogens for endothelial cells (such as basic fibroblast growth factor [bFGF] and transforming growth factor beta [TGF-beta]), which act as local regulators of the process, are synthesized by chondrocytes under several stimuli and in relation to the differentiation stage of the cartilage. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a 44-kDa protein well known as a potent angiogenic molecule owing to its mitogenic and permeability-causing properties. In this work, VEGF was located by immunohistochemistry in growth plate cartilage of human fetuses (20-22 weeks old) and its expression was demonstrated by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Primary culture of human fetal epiphyseal chondrocytes (HFEC) maintained VEGF expression at protein and messenger RNA (mRNA) levels and this expression was stimulated by cartilage-promoting growth factors incorporated into the culture media (rFGF-b, rTGF-beta1, and insulin-like growth factor [rFGF-b] at 50 ng/ml). The conditioned medium (CM) of HFEC stimulated the proliferation of endothelial cells, and this was partially blocked by anti-VEGF antibody. These studies showed VEGF production by chondrocytes of the epiphyseal growth cartilage and suggested a role of this factor in cartilage physiology and the angiogenic process.

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