Nitric oxide induces the synthesis of vascular endothelial growth factor by rat vascular smooth muscle cells

Józef Dulak, Alicja Józkowicz, Aldona Dembinska-Kiec, Ibeth Guevara, Anna Zdzienicka, Danuta Zmudzinska-Grochot, Izabela Florek, Anna Wójtowicz, Andrzej Szuba, John P. Cooke

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306 Scopus citations


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is known to induce the release of nitric oxide (NO) from endothelial cells. However, the effect of NO on VEGF synthesis is not clear. Accordingly, the effect of endogenous and exogenous NO on VEGF synthesis by rat vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) was investigated. Two in vitro models were used: (1) VSMCs stimulated to produce NO by treatment with interleukin (IL)-1β (10 ng/mL) and (2) VSMCs lipotransfected with pKecNOS plasmid, containing the endothelial constitutive NO synthase (ecNOS) cDNA. The synthesis of NO was inhibited by Nω-nitro-L- arginine methyl ester (L-NAME, 2 to 5 mmol/L) or diaminohydroxypyrimidine (DAHP, 2.5 to 5 mmol/L), inhibitors of NOS and GTP cyclohydrolase I, respectively. Some cells treated with L-NAME or DAHP were supplemented with L-arginine (10 mmol/L) or tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4; 100 μmol/L), respectively. In addition, we studied the effect of sodium nitroprusside (SNP; 10 and 100 μmol/L) and chemically related compounds, potassium ferrocyanide and ferricyanide, on VEGF generation. IL-1β induced iNOS expression and NO generation and significantly upregulated VEGF mRNA expression and protein synthesis. L-NAME and DAHP totally inhibited NO generation and decreased the IL-1β-upregulated VEGF synthesis by 30% to 40%. Supplementation with L-arginine or BH4 increased NO generation by L-NAME- or DAHP-treated cells, and VEGF synthesis was augmented by addition of BH4. The cells generating NO after pKecNOS transfection released significantly higher amounts of VEGF than cells transfected with control plasmids. Inhibition of NO generation by L-NAME decreased VEGF synthesis. In contrast to the effect of endogenous NO, we observed the inhibition of VEGF synthesis in the presence of high (10 or 100 μmol/L) concentrations of SNP. This effect was mimicked by chemically related ferricyanide and ferrocyanide compounds, suggesting that the inhibitory effect of sodium nitroprusside may be mediated by an NO-independent mechanism. The results indicate that endogenous NO enhances VEGF synthesis. The positive interaction between endogenous NO and VEGF may have implications for endothelial regeneration after balloon angioplasty and for angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-666
Number of pages8
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Gene transfer
  • Nitric oxide
  • Tetrahydrobiopterin
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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