Complementary therapeutic effects of dual delivery of insulin-like growth factor-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor by gelatin microspheres in experimental heart failure

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AimsStrategies to prevent adverse left ventricular (LV) remodelling after myocardial infarction have included several traditional approaches and novel cell-based or gene therapies. Delivery of growth factors in post-infarction heart failure has emerged as a valuable alternative strategy. Our aim was to investigate the effects of sequential release of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) from biodegradable gelatin microspheres in experimental heart failure.Methods and resultsGelatin hydrogel microspheres were known to guarantee a sustained release of encapsulated growth factors, characterized by an initial burst followed by a slower release. Rats with moderate myocardial infarction were randomized to receive empty microspheres (MI), microspheres loaded with IGF-1 or VEGF, or a combination thereof (DUAL). Myocardial injections of microspheres were performed at the time of surgery, and treatment lasted 4 weeks. Echocardiography, LV catheterization, morphometric histology and immunohistochemistry, and molecular assessment of downstream mediators [e.g. Akt, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), and sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase-2 (SERCA-2)] were assessed at the end of the treatment period. Infarct sizes were 33 ± 2, 28 ± 4, 24 ± 3, and 16 ± 3% in the MI, IGF-1, VEGF, and DUAL groups, respectively. IGF-1 attenuated LV remodelling, improved LV systolic and diastolic function, increased myocyte size, and reduced apoptotic deaths, capillary loss, and indexes of inflammation. VEGF-treated animals displayed a marked myocardial neoangiogenesis that led to the formation of mature vessels if combined with IGF-1 delivery. Downstream effects of IGF-1 were principally mediated by the Akt–mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin)-dependent pathway, and both growth factors, particularly VEGF, induced a robust and sustained increase of eNOS.ConclusionIGF-1 and VEGF exerted complementary therapeutic effects in post-infarction heart failure. Biodegradable gelatin microspheres provide sustained and controlled growth factor release locally, exposing myocardial tissue without the side effects of systemic administration.

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