Increased plasma levels of soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (sFlt-1) in women by moderate exercise and increased plasma levels of vascular endothelial growth factor in overweight/obese women

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Abstract

The incidence of breast cancer is increasing worldwide, and this seems to be related to an increase in lifestyle risk factors, including physical inactivity and overweight/obesity. We have reported previously that exercise induced a circulating angiostatic phenotype characterized by increased soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1) and endostatin and decreased unbound vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in men. However, there are no data on women. The present study determines the following: (a) whether moderate exercise increased sFlt-1 and endostatin and decreased unbound VEGF in the circulation of adult female volunteers and (b) whether overweight/obese women have a higher plasma level of unbound VEGF than lean women. A total of 72 African American and White adult women volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 44 years were enrolled in the exercise study. All the participants walked on a treadmill for 30 min at a moderate intensity (55–59% heart rate reserve), and oxygen consumption (VO2) was quantified utilizing a metabolic cart. We obtained blood samples before and immediately after exercise from 63 participants. ELISA assays showed that the plasma levels of sFlt-1 were 67.8±3.7 pg/ml immediately after exercise (30 min), significantly higher than the basal levels, 54.5±3.3 pg/ml, before exercise (P<0.01; n=63). There was no significant difference in the % increase in the sFlt-1 levels after exercise between African American and White (P=0.533) women or between lean and overweight/obese women (P=0.892). There was no significant difference in the plasma levels of unbound VEGF (35.28±5.47 vs. 35.23±4.96 pg/ml; P=0.99) or endostatin (111.12±5.48 vs. 115.45±7.15 ng/ml; P=0.63) before and after exercise. The basal plasma levels of unbound VEGF in overweight/obese women were 52.26±9.6 pg/ml, significantly higher than the basal levels of unbound VEGF in lean women, 27.34±4.99 pg/ml (P<0.05). The results support our hypothesis that exercise-induced plasma levels of sFlt-1 could be an important clinical biomarker to explore the mechanisms of exercise training in reducing the progression of breast cancer and that VEGF is an important biomarker in obesity and obesity-related cancer progression.

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