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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2006 Nov 15;174(10):1069-76. Epub 2006 Aug 24.

Vascular remodeling is airway generation-specific in a primate model of chronic asthma.

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UC Davis Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care, 4150 V Street, PSSB #3400, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.



Changes in the density of bronchial vessels have been proposed as a part of airway remodeling that occurs in chronic asthma.


Using an established nonhuman primate model of chronic allergic asthma, we evaluated changes in vascular density as well as the contribution of bronchial epithelium to produce vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).


Eight juvenile rhesus macaques were divided into two groups of four. One group was exposed to 11 cycles of aerosolized house dust mite allergen (HDMA), whereas the other was exposed to filtered air. Bronchial wall vasculature was identified using an immunohistochemical approach, and vascular density was quantified stereologically. A semiquantitative polymerase chain reaction approach was used to estimate VEGF splice variant gene expression at discrete airway generations. Cell culture of primary tracheal epithelial cells with varying concentrations of HDMA was used to quantify the direct contribution of the epithelium to VEGF production.


Bronchial vascular density was increased at mid- to lower airway generations, which was independent of changes in the interstitial compartment. The VEGF121 splice variant was significantly increased at lower airway generations. VEGF protein increased in a dose-dependant fashion in vitro primarily by an increase in VEGF121 gene expression.


This study highlights that increased vascular density in an animal model of chronic allergic asthma is airway generation specific and associated with a unique increase of VEGF splice variant gene expression. Airway epithelium is the likely source for increased VEGF.

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