Mechanisms of Hypoxia-Induced Neurovascular Remodeling in PlGF Knockout Mice

Title: Mechanisms of Hypoxia-Induced Neurovascular Remodeling in PlGF Knockout Mice
Authors: Freitas-Andrade, Moises
Date: 2012
Abstract: Due to the high metabolic demand and low capacity for energy storage of the brain, neurons are vitally reliant on a constant oxygen supply. Under chronic mild hypoxic conditions (10% oxygen), angiogenesis is induced in the brain in an attempt to restore tissue oxygen tension to normal levels. In brain hypoxia, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a critical role in angiogenesis; however, the role of its homolog placental growth factor (PlGF) is unknown. Using PlGF knockout (PlGF-/-) mice exposed to whole body hypoxia (10% oxygen) for 7, 14 and 21-days, we show that PlGF-/- animals exhibit a delay in the angiogenic response of the brain to hypoxia. PlGF-/- microvessels had a significant increase in fibrinogen accumulation and extravasation, which correlated with disruption of the tight-junction protein claudin-5. These vessels displayed large lumens, were surrounded by reactive astrocytes, lacked mural cell coverage and endothelial VEGF expression, and regressed after 21 days of hypoxia. The lack of PlGF, in combination with reduced VEGF expression levels observed in the brain of PlGF-/- animals during the first 5 days of hypoxia, is likely the cause of the delayed angiogenic response and the prothrombotic phenotype of these mice. In vitro studies conducted to analyze mechanisms involved in the impaired angiogenic phenotype and enhanced astrocytic reactivity to hypoxia of PlGF-/- animals indicated that: i) PlGF-/- mouse brain endothelial cells exhibit alterations in intracellular signaling pathways associated with sprouting (ERK1/2) and vessel branching morphogenesis (GSK-3β) and ii) PlGF-/- astrocytes overexpress VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) which through activation of the ERK1/2 signaling pathway leads to a more proliferative astrocytic phenotype. These astrocytes were more resistant to oxygen and glucose deprivation (OGD) than PlGF+/+ astrocytes, a characteristic that was shown to be independent of the classical antiapoptotic VEGFR-2-dependent PI3K/Akt pathway. The findings presented in this thesis demonstrated a critical role of PlGF in vascular remodeling in the hypoxic brain.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -