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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2011 May;31(5):1151-9. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.223917. Epub 2011 Mar 3.

Macrophage-derived tumor necrosis factor-alpha is an early component of the molecular cascade leading to angiogenesis in response to aortic injury.

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  • 1Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Services, (S-113), Department of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, University of Washington, 1660 S Columbian Way, Seattle, WA 98108, USA.



The goal of this study was to define the role of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) in the cascade of gene activation that regulates aortic angiogenesis in response to injury.


Angiogenesis was studied by culturing rat or mouse aortic rings in collagen gels. Gene expression was evaluated by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, microarray analysis, immunocytochemistry, and ELISA. TNFα gene disruption and recombinant TNFα or blocking antibodies against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) or TNF receptors were used to investigate TNFα-mediated angiogenic mechanisms. Resident aortic macrophages were depleted with liposomal clodronate. Angiogenesis was preceded by overexpression of TNFα and TNFα-inducible genes. Studies with isolated cells showed that macrophages were the main source of TNFα. Angiogenesis, VEGF production, and macrophage outgrowth were impaired by TNFα gene disruption and promoted by exogenous TNFα. Antibody-mediated inhibition of TNF receptor 1 significantly inhibited angiogenesis. The proangiogenic effect of TNFα was suppressed by blocking VEGF or by ablating aortic macrophages. Exogenous TNFα, however, maintained a limited proangiogenic capacity in the absence of macrophages and macrophage-mediated VEGF production.


Overexpression of TNFα is required for optimal VEGF production and angiogenesis in response to injury. This TNFα/VEGF-mediated angiogenic pathway requires macrophages. The residual capacity of TNFα to stimulate angiogenesis in macrophage-depleted aortic cultures implies the existence of a VEGF-independent alternate pathway of TNFα-induced angiogenesis.

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