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J Cell Mol Med. 2008 Apr;12(2):649-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2007.00112.x.

Overexpression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptors on keratinocytes in psoriasis: regulated by calcium independent of VEGF.

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Department of Dermatology, Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.


Psoriasis is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the skin characterized by epidermal hyperplasia and angiogenesis. Recently, vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFRs, including VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3) were found to be expressed in normal human epidermis and associated with proliferation and migration of keratinocytes. The purpose of this study is to investigate the expression of VEGFRs on psoriatic keratinocytes and the roles of calcium and VEGF in regulating VEGFR expression. Skin samples from 17 patients with chronic plaque psoriasis and 11 normal controls were included. The expression of VEGFRs in psoriatic keratinocytes at mRNA and protein levels was determined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot analysis. Localization of the VEGFRs in skin lesions was determined by immuno-fluorescent method. Since keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation rely on calcium concentrations, and VEGF is overexpressed in psoriatic epidermis, we further investigated the roles of calcium and VEGF in regulating the expression of VEGFRs. Overexpression of VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 in psoriatic epidermis was demonstrated both at mRNA and protein levels in vitro. VEGFRs were strongly labeled in non-lesional, perilesional and lesional psoriatic keratinocytes in all viable epidermal stratums in vivo. Furthermore, both exogenous VEGF165 and calcium enhanced the expression of VEGFRs. Calcium also enhanced the expression of VEGF in non-lesional psoriatic keratinocytes, while targeted blockade of VEGF activity by bevacizumab could not inhibit calcium-induced up-regulation of protein levels of VEGFRs. We conclude from these results that VEGFRs are overexpressed in lesional psoriatic epidermal keratinocytes. Both calcium and VEGF regulate VEGFRs expression in psoriatic epidermis. More importantly, calcium is a potential regulator for VEGFR independent of VEGF.

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