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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2017 Jul 1;313(1):H200-H206. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00776.2016. Epub 2017 Apr 14.

WNT5A regulates adipose tissue angiogenesis via antiangiogenic VEGF-A165b in obese humans.

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Evans Department of Medicine and Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts; and.
Department of General Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.
Evans Department of Medicine and Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts; and


Experimental studies have suggested that Wingless-related integration site 5A (WNT5A) is a proinflammatory secreted protein that is associated with metabolic dysfunction in obesity. Impaired angiogenesis in fat depots has been implicated in the development of adipose tissue capillary rarefaction, hypoxia, inflammation, and metabolic dysfunction. We have recently demonstrated that impaired adipose tissue angiogenesis is associated with overexpression of antiangiogenic factor VEGF-A165b in human fat and the systemic circulation. In the present study, we postulated that upregulation of WNT5A is associated with angiogenic dysfunction and examined its role in regulating VEGF-A165b expression in human obesity. We biopsied subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue from 38 obese individuals (body mass index: 44 ± 7 kg/m2, age: 37 ± 11 yr) during planned bariatric surgery and characterized depot-specific protein expression of VEGF-A165b and WNT5A using Western blot analysis. In both subcutaneous and visceral fat, VEGF-A165b expression correlated strongly with WNT5A protein (r = 0.9, P < 0.001). In subcutaneous adipose tissue where angiogenic capacity is greater than in the visceral depot, exogenous human recombinant WNT5A increased VEGF-A165b expression in both whole adipose tissue and isolated vascular endothelial cell fractions (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). This was associated with markedly blunted angiogenic capillary sprout formation in human fat pad explants. Moreover, recombinant WNT5A increased secretion of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1, a negative regulator of angiogenesis, in the sprout media (P < 0.01). Both VEGF-A165b-neutralizing antibody and secreted frizzled-related protein 5, which acts as a decoy receptor for WNT5A, significantly improved capillary sprout formation and reduced soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 production (P < 0.05). We demonstrated a significant regulatory nexus between WNT5A and antiangiogenic VEGF-A165b in the adipose tissue of obese subjects that was linked to angiogenic dysfunction. Elevated WNT5A expression in obesity may function as a negative regulator of angiogenesis.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Wingless-related integration site 5a (WNT5A) negatively regulates adipose tissue angiogenesis via VEGF-A165b in human obesity.


VEGF-A165b; Wingless-related integration site 5a; adipose tissue; angiogenesis; obesity

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