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Growth Factors. 2005 Jun;23(2):87-95.

Expression pattern of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), their receptors and antagonists in primary endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells.

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Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry, RWTH Aachen, Germany.


Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are important angiogenic growth factors. While basic FGF (FGF2) is well established as a potent inducer of angiogenesis much less is known about other FGFs possibly expressed by EC. We investigated the expression of all known FGFs, their main tyrosine kinase receptors and antagonists by RT-PCR analysis in human umbilical vascular endothelial cells (HUVECs) to obtain a complete expression profile of this important growth factor system in model endothelial cells (EC). In addition to FGFR1IIIc, which is considered as the major FGF receptor in EC, HUVECs express similar levels of FGFR3IIIc, detectable amounts of FGFR2IIIc and a new FGF receptor without an intracellular kinase domain (FGFR5). HUVECs express several secreted FGFs, including FGF5, 7, 8, 16 and 18 and two members of the fibroblast growth factor homologous factors (FHFs), not yet reported to be expressed in EC. The expression panel was compared with that obtained from human vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and human aortic tissue. Human umbilical artery smooth muscle cells (HUASMCs) and HUVECs express the identical FGF receptor and ligand panel implicating that both cell types act, according the FGF signals more as an entity than as individual cell types. Expression of Fgf1, 2, 7, 16 and 18 and the antagonists Sprouty 2,3 and 4 was demonstrated for all analysed cDNAs. The IIIc isoforms of FGFR1 and 2 and the novel FGFR5 were expressed in the aorta, but expression of the FGF receptor 3 was not detected in cDNAs derived from aortic tissue. In the VSMC of rat aortic tissue and in HUASM cultured cells we could demonstrate FGF18 immunoreactivity in the nucleus of the cells. The expression of several secreted FGFs by EC may focus the view more on their paracrine effects on neighbouring cells during tissue regeneration or tumor formation.

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