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Br J Pharmacol. 2003 Oct;140(4):620-6.

Myoblast-mediated gene transfer for therapeutic angiogenesis and arteriogenesis.

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Departments of Molecular Pharmacology and Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 269 Campus Drive, CCSR 4215A, Stanford, CA 94305-5175, USA.


Therapeutic angiogenesis aims at generating new blood vessels by delivering growth factors such as VEGF and FGF. Clinical trials are underway in patients with peripheral vascular and coronary heart disease. However, increasing evidence indicates that the new vasculature needs to be stabilized to avoid deleterious effects such as edema and hemangioma formation. Moreover, a major challenge is to induce new vessels that persist following cessation of the angiogenic stimulus. Mature vessels may be generated by modulating timing and dosage of growth factor expression, or by combination of 'growth' factors with 'maturation' factors like PDGF-BB, angiopoietin-1 or TGF-beta. Myoblast-mediated gene transfer has unique characteristics that make it a useful tool for studying promising novel approaches to therapeutic angiogenesis. It affords robust and long-lasting expression, and can be considered as a relatively rapid form of 'adult transgenesis' in muscle. The combined insertion of different gene constructs into single myoblasts and their progeny allows the simultaneous expression of different 'growth' and 'maturation' factors within the same cell in vivo. The additional insertion of a reporter gene makes it possible to analyze the phenotype of the vessels surrounding the transgenic muscle fibers into which the myoblasts have fused. The effects of timing and duration of gene expression can be studied by using tetracycline-inducible constructs, and dosage effects by selecting subpopulations consistently expressing distinct levels of growth factors. Finally, the autologous cell-based approach using transduced myoblasts could be an alternative gene delivery system for therapeutic angiogenesis in patients, avoiding the toxicities seen with some viral vectors.

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