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J Neuroimmunol. 2009 Apr 30;209(1-2):6-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2009.01.009. Epub 2009 Feb 23.

VEGF and angiogenesis in acute and chronic MOG((35-55)) peptide induced EAE.

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Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, and Diagnostic Imaging, University of Western Ontario, Ontario, Canada.


An increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is associated with demyelinated lesions in both multiple sclerosis (MS) and its model (EAE), implicating changes in vasculature as a potential component of CNS plaque formation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the vascular changes in acute and chronic EAE in C57BL/6 mice induced with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG ((35-55))) peptide. We investigated the functional contribution of VEGF to acute and chronic EAE by treating immunized mice with SU5416 (Semaxinib), a potent and selective inhibitor of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2). Animals received seven daily injections of SU5416 (50 mg/kg) or vehicle beginning on the day after disease onset (acute study) or on day 45 post-immunization (chronic study). Spinal cord sections were collected on the day of sacrifice. Modulation of angiogenic gene expression was determined using RNA isolated from 4 acute and 4 non-immunized controls. MOG peptide induction produced extensive demyelination, immune cell infiltration, tissue laminin deposits, and axonal loss in lesions. VEGF expression was extensively increased in the acute mice, which correlated positively with clinical score. In the acute study, SU5416 treatment produced a significant clinical improvement versus vehicle controls (p<0.001), with less demyelination (-37%) and cellular infiltration (-23%) in the spinal cord (p<0.05). Treated animals also had significantly fewer blood vessels per section than controls (56.1+/-6.1 v. 81.6+/-11.5, p<0.05), and significantly reduced laminin abnormalities (28.9% of lesion area v. 46.8%, p<0.05). There was no improvement in clinical score or tissue pathology, and no difference in vessel number or lesion laminin expression, when SU5416 was administered during the chronic disease (all p>0.05). In the acute study only, VEGF staining correlated with demyelination and the extent of cellular infiltration in both control (r=0.723, r=0.665) and treated (r=0.681, r=0.487) animals (all p<0.05). Laminin staining in lesion areas was strongly correlated with tissue pathology for all animals in both the acute and chronic study (all p<0.001). Vascular alterations in MOG peptide-induced EAE in the mouse are accompanied by increased lesion-specific levels of VEGF, extensive laminin deposits in the tissue and altered transcription of numerous angiogenic factors. In the microarray studies, acute mice showed a significant increase in several angiogenic RNA transcripts, six of which were verified by RT-PCR, alanyl aminopeptidase, caspase 8, Hif1a, MMP-19, plasminogen activator inhibitor, and thrombospondin1.

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