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Bone. 2002 Mar;30(3):472-7.

Vascular endothelial growth factor stimulates chemotactic migration of primary human osteoblasts.

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Orthopaedic Department (RKU), University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.


Recent studies have indicated a critical role for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) during the process of endochondral ossification, in particular in coupling cartilage resorption with bone formation. Therefore, we studied the chemoattractive and proliferative properties of human VEGF-A on primary human osteoblasts (PHO) and compared these data with the effects of human basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2). Furthermore, initial experiments were carried out to characterize VEGF-binding proteins on osteoblastic cells possibly involved in the response. For the first time, to our knowledge, we could demonstrate a chemoattractive effect of VEGF-A, but not VEGF-E, on primary human osteoblasts. The effect of VEGF-A was dose-dependent and did not reach a maximum within the concentration range tested (up to 10 ng/mL). The maximal effect observed was a chemotactic index (CI) of 2 at a concentration of 10 ng/mL. bFGF and BMP-2 exhibited maxima at 1.0 ng/mL with CI values of 2.5 and 2, respectively. In addition to its effect on cell migration, VEGF-A stimulated cell proliferation by up to 70%. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis revealed the expression of VEGF receptors VEGFR-1 (Flt-1), VEGFR-2 (Kdr), and VEGFR-3 (Flt-4), as well as neuropilin-1 and -2. An in vitro kinase assay failed to demonstrate activation of VEGFR-2 upon stimulation with either VEGF-E or VEGF-A, consistent with the idea that the effect of VEGF-A on primary human osteoblasts is mediated via VEGFR-1. Taken together, our data establish that human osteoblasts respond to VEGF-A, suggesting a functional role for this growth factor in bone formation and remodeling.

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