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J Cell Biochem. 1998 Jun 1;69(3):326-35.

Copper stimulates proliferation of human endothelial cells under culture.

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  • 1Center for Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences and Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Copper ions stimulate proliferation of human umbilical artery and vein endothelial cells but not human dermal fibroblasts or arterial smooth muscle cells. Incubation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells for 48 h with 500 microM CuSO4 in a serum-free medium in the absence of exogenous growth factors results in a twofold increase in cell number, similar to the cell number increase induced by 20 ng/ml of basic fibroblast growth factor under the same conditions. Copper-induced proliferation of endothelial cells is not inhibited by 10% fetal bovine serum or by the presence of antibodies against a variety of angiogenic, growth, and chemotactic factors including angiogenin, fibroblast growth factors, epidermal growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, transforming growth factor-beta, macrophage/monocyte chemotactic and activating factor, and macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha. Moreover, despite the previous observations that copper increased total specific binding of 125I-angiogenin to endothelial cells, binding to the 170 kDa receptor is not changed; hence, the mitogenic activity of angiogenin is not altered by copper. Copper-induced proliferation, along with early reports that copper induces migration of endothelial cells, may suggest a possible mechanism for the involvement of copper in the process of angiogenesis.

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