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Arch Dermatol Res. 2009 Feb;301(2):159-66. doi: 10.1007/s00403-008-0921-7. Epub 2008 Dec 30.

Insulin enhances proliferation and viability of human umbilical vein endothelial cells.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, School of Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-9128, USA.


This investigation is a follow-up to our previous in vivo studies revealing that rapid stretch increases tissue insulin in murine skin flaps, coincident with the up-regulation of key angiogenic effectors and enhanced vascularization. In the present study, we used human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) as an in vitro model system to determine the role of insulin in the chemical signals regulating the processes of proliferation and viability (survival). MTT-based colorimetric methods demonstrated that insulin enhances proliferation and survival of HUVECs. Western blot analysis revealed that protein kinase B (pAkt [Thr(308)]) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were the insulin-responsive intermediates in proliferating endothelial cells (ECs). In insulin-enhanced survival, both pAkt (Thr(308)) and pAkt (Ser(473)) were activated in HUVECs. However, no change in VEGF expression accompanied pAkt activation. The beneficial effects of insulin were abrogated by insulin receptor (IR)/insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGFR) or phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3-K) blockade, suggesting that insulin-induced EC proliferation and viability are mediated through pIR/pIGFR and PI3-K effectors. These data provide new insights into the beneficial effects of insulin on vascularization and tissue viability, providing a mechanistic link to the enhancement of healing in acutely stretched skin.

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