Microenvironmental VEGF distribution is critical for stable and functional vessel growth in ischemia

Georges Von Degenfeld, Andrea Banfi, Matthew L. Springer, Roger A. Wagner, Johannes Jacobi, Clare R. Ozawa, Milton J. Merchant, John P. Cooke, Helen M. Blau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


The critical role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression levels in developmental angiogenesis is well established. Nonetheless, the effects of different local (microenvironmental) VEGF concentrations in ischemia have not been studied in the adult organism, and VEGF delivery to patients has been disappointing. Here, we demonstrate the existence of both lower and upper threshold levels of microenvironmental VEGF concentrations for the induction of therapeutic vessel growth in ischemia. In the ischemic hind limb, implantation of myoblasts transduced to express VEGF164 at different levels per cell increased blood flow only moderately, and vascular leakage and aberrant preangiomatous vessels were always induced. When the same total dose was uniformly distributed by implanting a monoclonal population derived from a single VEGF-expressing myoblast, blood flow was fully restored to nonischemic levels, collateral growth was induced, and ischemic damage was prevented. Hemangiomas were avoided and only normal, pericyte-covered vessels were induced persisting over 15 mo. Surprisingly, clones uniformly expressing either lower or higher VEGF levels failed to provide any functional benefit. A biphasic effect of VEGF dose on vessel number and diameter was found. Blood flow was only improved if vessels were increased both in size and in number. Microenvironmental VEGF concentrations determine efficacy and safety in a therapeutic setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2277-E2287
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Angiogenesis
  • Cell transplantation
  • Gene therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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