The therapeutic effect of vascular endothelial growth factor gene- or heme oxygenase-1 gene-modified endothelial progenitor cells on neovascularization of rat hindlimb ischemia model

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Abstract

Objective:

To explore the therapeutic potential of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) transfected with vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) on rat hindlimb ischemia model.

Methods:

Eukaryotic expression vectors encoding VEGFA or HO-1 were constructed and introduced into EPCs isolated from rat bone marrow. In total, 150 Sprague Dawley rat hindlimb ischemia models were established and randomized into five groups which were injected via tail vein with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), nontransfected EPCs, VEGFA-modified EPCs, HO-1-modified EPCs, and both VEGFA- and HO-1-modified EPCs, respectively. The microvessel density, the expressions of VEGFA and HO-1 in the ischemic limbs, the recovery of blood flow as evaluated by laser-Doppler perfusion imaging, and the rate of limb salvage were compared among different groups.

Results:

Transplantation of both VEGFA- and HO-1-modified EPCs in recipient rats significantly increased the microvessel density (expressed as capillaries/m2 at day 21 after operation, group vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)+HO-1, 357 ± 14.1; group VEGF, 253.7 ± 9.9; group HO-1, 255.5 ± 12.5; group EPC, 210.7 ± 10.3; group PBS, 144.3 ± 9.3; P < .001), the expressions of VEGFA and HO-1 in ischemic tissue, the recovery of blood flow (at day 21, VEGF+HO-1 group, 85.4 ± 17.8%; VEGF group, 51.2 ± 13.2%; HO-1 group, 50.4 ± 12.9%; EPC group, 39.9 ± 8.5%; PBS group, 28.3 ± 7.8%; P < .001), and the rate of limb salvage (VEGF+HO-1 group, 94.4%; VEGF group or HO-1 group, 63.6%; EPC group, 50.0%; PBS group, 11.1%), compared with transplantation of either VEGFA- or HO-1-modified EPCs alone, or of nontransfected EPCs, or PBS injection. The order of therapeutic effectiveness on ischemic limbs was VEGFA- + HO-1-modifed EPC > either VEGFA- or HO-1-modified EPC alone > nontransfected EPC > PBS.

Conclusions:

VEGFA-modified EPC and HO-1-modified EPC synergized with each other in promoting angiogenesis in ischemic limbs of rat hindlimb ischemia model. In addition to VEGF, the introduction of HO-1 in EPC-based transplantation may serve as a novel and useful therapeutic strategy for ischemic disease of lower extremity.

Clinical Relevance:

Genetically modified endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) is useful in designing strategies to achieve dual purposes in treating peripheral arterial disease: targeted delivery of therapeutic genes using EPC as vehicle, and enhancement on the angiogenic properties of EPC by the expression of therapeutic genes. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) has been shown to play an important role in ischemic angiogenesis, aside from its role as an antioxidant protein. We have shown for the first time that vascular endothelial growth factor A-modified EPC and HO-1-modified EPC synergized with each other in promoting angiogenesis in rat hindlimb ischemia model. These findings provide further evidence of the importance of both HO-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor in neovascularization.

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