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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2009 Apr;29(4):495-502. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.108.180349. Epub 2009 Jan 15.

Endothelial-specific expression of mitochondrial thioredoxin promotes ischemia-mediated arteriogenesis and angiogenesis.

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Interdepartmental Program in Vascular Biology and Therapeutics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.



Thioredoxin-2 (Trx2), a major antioxidant protein in mitochondria, enhances nitric oxide bioavailability and inhibits ASK1-dependent apoptosis in endothelial cells (ECs). However, the in vivo role of Trx2 in angiogenesis has not been defined. Here we used EC-specific transgenesis of Trx2 (Trx2-TG) in mice to determine the in vivo function of Trx2 in arteriogenesis and angiogenesis.


In a femoral artery ligation model, Trx2-TG mice had enhanced capacity in limb perfusion recovery and ischemic reserve capacity compared to the nontransgenic littermates. Ischemia-initiated arteriogenesis in the upper limb was augmented in Trx2-TG mice. Trx2-TG mice also showed significantly enhanced capillary formation and maturation in the lower limb. In nontransgenic limb, ischemia specifically induced a downregulation of Trx2 protein, leading to increased oxidative stress, ASK1 activation, and EC apoptosis. In contrast, Trx2-TG maintained a constitutive level of Trx2, reducing the ischemia-induced deleterious responses. We then defined the mechanism by which Trx2 increases angiogenesis using ECs isolated from Trx2-TG mice. Trx2-TG ECs showed increased NO and NO-dependent migration. In addition, these cells were more resistant to oxidative stress-induced activation of ASK1 signaling and apoptosis. Moreover, Trx2-augmented EC survival is NO-independent. To define the relative contributions of Trx2-increased NO and Trx2-reduced ASK1 apoptotic activity to angiogenesis in vivo, we examined Trx2 effects on ischemia-induced angiogenesis in eNOS-deficient mice. The eNOS deletion caused severe impairment in the functional flow recovery in response to ischemia. Trx2 expression in eNOS-KO mice still dramatically inhibited ischemia-induced ASK1 and EC apoptosis, leading to an enhanced functional flow recovery.


These in vivo and in vitro data support that Trx2 maintains EC function by two parallel pathways-scavenging ROS to increase NO bioavailability and inhibiting ASK1 activity to enhance EC survival, facilitating ischemia-mediated arteriogenesis and angiogenesis.

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