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Transl Stroke Res. 2010 Sep 1;1(3):197-201.

VEGF Induces More Severe Cerebrovascular Dysplasia in Endoglin than in Alk1 Mice.

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Center for Cerebrovascular Research, Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California, San Francisco, 1001 Potrero Avenue Room 3C-38, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA.


Brain arteriovenous malformations (BAVMs) are an important cause of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) in young adults. A small percent of BAVMs is due to hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia 1 and 2 (HHT1 and 2), which are caused by mutations in two genes involved in TGF-β signaling: endoglin (ENG) and activin-like kinase 1 (ALK1). The BAVM phenotype is an incomplete penetrant in HHT patients, and the mechanism is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that a "response-to-injury" triggers abnormal vascular (dysplasia) development, using Eng and Alk1 haploinsufficient mice. Adeno-associated virus (AAV) expressing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was used to mimic the injury conditions. VEGF overexpression caused a similar degree of angiogenesis in the brain of all groups, except that the cortex of Alk1(+/-) mice had a 33% higher capillary density than other groups. There were different levels of cerebrovascular dysplasia in haploinsufficient mice (Eng(+/)>Alk1(+/-)), which simulates the relative penetrance of BAVM in HHT patients (HHT1>HHT2). Few dysplastic capillaries were observed in AAV-LacZ-injected mice. Our data indicate that both angiogenic stimulation and genetic alteration are necessary for the development of dysplasia, suggesting that anti-angiogenic therapies might be adapted to slow the progression of the disease and decrease the risk of spontaneous ICH.

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