Redox regulation of angiogenesis is an important and emerging topic in vascular sciences; reactive oxygen species (ROS) modulate vascular endothelial cell (EC) proliferation and migration, but the molecular mechanism underlying this phenomenon remains largely unclear. We have shown micromolar concentrations of the pro-angiogenic metabolite deoxyribose-1-phosphate (dRP) detected by mass spectrometry (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) in the supernatants of collagen- and thrombin-stimulated platelets. The genetic silencing of dRP-generating enzymes uridine phosphorylase (UP) and thymidine phosphorylase (TP) in mouse platelets significantly reduced the levels of dRP in platelet supernatants and impaired the ability of protein-free platelet supernatants to enhance human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) motility. Chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) vascularisation assays performed with protein-free supernatants suggested that the release of dRP by platelets stimulates angiogenesis in vivo.
To understand the pro-angiogenic effect of dRP, we investigated further the molecular mechanism of action of dRP and whether this effect was observed in other nucleoside derivatives deoxyribose-5-phospate (dR5P), ribose-1-phosphate (R1P) and deoxyribose (dR). Using live cell real-time confocal imaging and fluorescence assays, HUVEC treatment with dRP significantly increased ROS generation. Similarly, dR5P and R1P also induced ROS accumulation in HUVECs, whereas dR did not. The protein expression of the redox stress marker heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and Integrin β3 were shown to be upregulated by dRP and its phosphorylated derivatives (except dR) by immunoblot experiments. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2), interleukin 8 (IL-8), and stromal cell-derived factor 1α (SDF-1α) showed a similar effect. In parallel, only dRP and its phosphorylated derivatives increased HUVEC cell motility in scratch-healing assays and capillary tube formation using Matrigel™ assays. The causative link between integrin β3 upregulation and increased HUVEC motility/capillary tube formation was proved using integrin-specific inhibitory antibodies'. Furthermore the angiogenic potential of dRP was confirmed in vivo.
In summary, dRP and its phosphorylated derivatives were shown to play a relevant role in the paracrine regulation of EC motility and pro-angiogenic activity by up-regulating integrin β3 in a ROS-dependent manner possibly signaling via VEGFR2. dRP is likely to play a role in the stimulation of postnatal angiogenesis and tissue regeneration.