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Circulation. 1999 Jan 5-12;99(1):111-20.

Age-dependent impairment of angiogenesis.

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Departments of Medicine (Cardiology) and Biomedical Research, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass 02135, USA.



The effect of aging on angiogenesis in ischemic vascular disease has not been studied. Accordingly, we investigated the hypothesis that angiogenesis is impaired as a function of age.


Forty days after the resection of 1 femoral artery, collateral vessel development was significantly impaired in old (aged 4 to 5 years; n=7) versus young (aged 6 to 8 months; n=6) New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits on the basis of reduced hindlimb perfusion (ischemic: normal blood pressure ratio=0.58+/-0.05 versus 0.77+/-0.06; P<0.005), reduced number of angiographically visible vessels (angiographic score=0.48+/-0.05 versus 0.70+/-0.05; P<0.01), and lower capillary density in the ischemic limb (130.3+/-5.8/mm2 versus 171.4+/-9.5/mm2; P<0.001). Angiogenesis was also impaired in old (aged 2 years) versus young (aged 12 weeks) mice as shown by reduced hindlimb perfusion (measured by laser Doppler imaging) and lower capillary density (353.0+/-14.3/mm2 versus 713.3+/-63.4/mm2; P<0.01). Impaired angiogenesis in old animals was the result of impaired endothelial function (lower basal NO release and decreased vasodilation in response to acetylcholine) and a lower expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in ischemic tissues (by Northern blot, Western blot, and immunohistochemistry). When recombinant VEGF protein was administered to young and old rabbits, both groups exhibited a significant and similar increase in blood pressure ratio, angiographic score, and capillary density.


Angiogenesis responsible for collateral development in limb ischemia is impaired with aging; responsible mechanisms include age-related endothelial dysfunction and reduced VEGF expression. Advanced age, however, does not preclude augmentation of collateral vessel development in response to exogenous angiogenic cytokines.

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