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Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 17;6:21546. doi: 10.1038/srep21546.

Long-term safety and stability of angiogenesis induced by balanced single-vector co-expression of PDGF-BB and VEGF164 in skeletal muscle.

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Cell and Gene Therapy, Department of Biomedicine, Basel University, Basel, Switzerland.
Department of Surgery, Basel University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.
Plastic, Reconstructive, Aesthetic and Hand Surgery, Basel University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.
Vascular Surgery, Basel University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.


Therapeutic angiogenesis by growth factor delivery is an attractive treatment strategy for ischemic diseases, yet clinical efficacy has been elusive. The angiogenic master regulator VEGF-A can induce aberrant angiogenesis if expressed above a threshold level. Since VEGF remains localized in the matrix around expressing cells, homogeneous dose distribution in target tissues is required, which is challenging. We found that co-expression of the pericyte-recruiting factor PDGF-BB at a fixed ratio with VEGF from a single bicistronic vector ensured normal angiogenesis despite heterogeneous high VEGF levels. Taking advantage of a highly controlled gene delivery platform, based on monoclonal populations of transduced myoblasts, in which every cell stably produces the same amount of each factor, here we rigorously investigated a) the dose-dependent effects, and b) the long-term safety and stability of VEGF and PDGF-BB co-expression in skeletal muscle. PDGF-BB co-expression did not affect the normal angiogenesis by low and medium VEGF doses, but specifically prevented vascular tumors by high VEGF, yielding instead normal and mature capillary networks, accompanied by robust arteriole formation. Induced angiogenesis persisted unchanged up to 4 months, while no tumors appeared. Therefore, PDGF-BB co-expression is an attractive strategy to improve safety and efficacy of therapeutic angiogenesis by VEGF gene delivery.

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