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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1992;313:355-64.

Control of angiogenesis by heparin and other sulfated polysaccharides.

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Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


Heparin and its related polysaccharides are revealed to have important new functions as regulators of blood vessel growth and regression. This regulatory activity may be explained in part by at least five mechanisms in which heparin and heparan sulfate interact with peptide growth factors: (1) Heparin and heparan sulfate have a high affinity for angiogenic growth factors such as the fibroblast growth factors and VEGF, as well as for angiogenic inhibitors such as thrombospondin and platelet factor 4. (2) Heparin and its related polysaccharides stabilize bFGF and other growth factors. (3) FGFs and thrombospondin are stored in the extracellular matrix bound to heparan sulfate; fragments of heparin or heparan sulfate may act as natural chaperones to shuttle bFGF or other growth factors to different cellular compartments. (5) Heparin-like low-affinity receptors on the surface of endothelial cells (and other cells), prepare FGFs for binding to their specific high affinity receptors; and (6) Heparin and its related polysaccharides potentiate angiostatic steroids. It is likely that future investigations will uncover even more fundamental regulatory roles for heparin as well as for other polysaccharides in the normal function of growth factors, especially in the complex process of angiogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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