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Exp Eye Res. 2011 Dec;93(6):921-6. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2011.10.013. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Expression of pro- and anti-angiogenic isoforms of VEGF in the mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Peking University People's Hospital, Beijing, China.


Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) has become one of the leading causes of blindness and visual loss in children over the last half century. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) is the principal stimulator of angiogenesis. Recently, it has been identified that VEGF was differentially spliced from exons 8 to exons 8a and 8b to form two families: the pro-angiogenic VEGFxxx family and the anti-angiogenic VEGFxxxb family. This alternate splicing produced VEGFxxxb proteins of the same length as VEGFxxx family, but with different C terminal amino acid sequences. VEGFxxxb appeared to be able to inhibit VEGFxxx-dependent angiogenesis. In our study, we investigated the protein expression course of VEGFxxx and VEGFxxxb by Western-blot in a mouse model of Oxygen-induced Retinopathy (OIR) from postnatal day 1 (P1) to postnatal day 21 (P21). We also analyzed the relative protein expression level of VEGF(165)b isoform in the OIR mouse model. We found that both VEGFxxx and VEGFxxxb were present in the mouse retina, among which, VEGF(164) and VEGF(165)b appeared to be predominant VEGFxxx and VEGFxxxb isoforms respectively in the mouse retina. We also found that the two family had different expression pattern correlated with neovascularization development and that the relative expression level of VEGF(165)b isoform switched during the neovascularization development in the OIR mouse model. In OIR group, the protein level of total VEGF isoforms (a mix of VEGF(164) and VEGF(165)b, detected by pan-VEGF antibody) continuously increased and peaked at P17 while VEGF(165)b continuously decreased from P9 which was well related with the vessel obliteration and neovascularization development in the mouse model of OIR. The neovascularization development correlates with an increase of total VEGF isoforms and the decrease of VEGF(165)b, indicating that there is a pro-angiogenic VEGF shift. Therefore, anti-angiogenic therapy that could alter the ratio of VEGFxxxb/VEGFxxx may be more effective.

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