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Circ Res. 2002 Nov 15;91(10):923-30.

Fibroblast growth factor-2 gene transfer can stimulate hepatocyte growth factor expression irrespective of hypoxia-mediated downregulation in ischemic limbs.

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Division of Pathophysiological and Experimental Pathology, Department of Pathology, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a potent angiogenic polypeptide that stimulates angiogenesis. Transcriptional regulation of HGF, however, has not been fully defined, with the exception of the hypoxia-mediated downregulation in cultured cells. In the present study, we report that angiogenic growth factors, including HGF, were upregulated in a murine model of critical limb ischemia in vivo, a finding that was in conflict with previous in vitro data. Mice deficient in basic fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) showed reduced induction of HGF protein in ischemic muscles, and overexpression of FGF-2 via gene transfer stimulated endogenous HGF, irrespective of the presence of ischemia. In culture, FGF-2 rapidly stimulated HGF mRNA, and a sustained expression was evident in the time course in vascular smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts. FGF-2-mediated induction of HGF was fully dependent on the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway yet was not affected by either hypoxia or a protein kinase A inhibitor. In the early expression, FGF-2 directly stimulated HGF mRNA without the requirement of new protein synthesis, whereas sustained induction of HGF in the later phase was partly mediated by platelet-derived growth factor-AA. Furthermore, in vivo overexpression of FGF-2 significantly improved the blood perfusion, and the effect was abolished by systemic blockade of HGF in ischemic limbs. This is the first demonstration of a regulational mechanism of HGF expression via FGF-2 that was independent of the presence of hypoxia. The harmonized therapeutic effects of FGF-2, accompanied with the activity of endogenous HGF, may provide a beneficial effect for the treatment of limb ischemia.

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