Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the main driver of angiogenesis and vascular permeability via VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2), whereas lymphangiogenesis signals are transduced by VEGFC/D via VEGFR3. VEGFR3 also regulates sprouting angiogenesis and blood vessel growth, but to what extent VEGFR3 signaling controls blood vessel permeability remains unknown.Objective:
To investigate the role of VEGFR3 in the regulation of VEGF-induced vascular permeability.Methods and Results:
Long-term global Vegfr3 gene deletion in adult mice resulted in increased fibrinogen deposition in lungs and kidneys, indicating enhanced vascular leakage at the steady state. Short-term deletion of Vegfr3 in blood vascular endothelial cells increased baseline leakage in various tissues, as well as in tumors, and exacerbated vascular permeability in response to VEGF, administered via intradermal adenoviral delivery or through systemic injection of recombinant protein. VEGFR3 gene silencing upregulated VEGFR2 protein levels and phosphorylation in cultured endothelial cells. Consistent with elevated VEGFR2 activity, vascular endothelial cadherin showed reduced localization at endothelial cell–cell junctions in postnatal retinas after Vegfr3 deletion, or after VEGFR3 silencing in cultured endothelial cells. Furthermore, concurrent deletion of Vegfr2 prevented VEGF-induced excessive vascular leakage in mice lacking Vegfr3.Conclusions:
VEGFR3 limits VEGFR2 expression and VEGF/VEGFR2 pathway activity in quiescent and angiogenic blood vascular endothelial cells, thereby preventing excessive vascular permeability.