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Nat Biotechnol. 2011 May;29(5):421-7. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1845. Epub 2011 Apr 17.

Fibroblast growth factor 9 delivery during angiogenesis produces durable, vasoresponsive microvessels wrapped by smooth muscle cells.

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Robarts Research Institute, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


The therapeutic potential of angiogenic growth factors has not been realized. This may be because formation of endothelial sprouts is not followed by their muscularization into vasoreactive arteries. Using microarray expression analysis, we discovered that fibroblast growth factor 9 (FGF9) was highly upregulated as human vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) assemble into layered cords. FGF9 was not angiogenic when mixed with tissue implants or delivered to the ischemic mouse hind limb, but instead orchestrated wrapping of SMCs around neovessels. SMC wrapping in implants was driven by sonic hedgehog-mediated upregulation of PDGFRβ. Computed tomography microangiography and intravital microscopy revealed that microvessels formed in the presence of FGF9 had enhanced capacity to receive flow and were vasoreactive. Moreover, the vessels persisted beyond 1 year, remodeling into multilayered arteries paired with peripheral nerves. This mature physiological competency was attained by targeting mesenchymal cells rather than endothelial cells, a finding that could inform strategies for therapeutic angiogenesis and tissue engineering.

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