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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

VEGFA is necessary for chondrocyte survival during bone development.

To directly examine the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGFA) in cartilage development, we conditionally knocked out Vegfa in chondrocytes, using the Col2a1 promoter to drive expression of Cre recombinase. Our study of Vegfa conditional knockout (CKO) mice provides new in-vivo evidence for two important functions of VEGFA in bone formation. First, VEGFA plays a significant role in both early and late stages of cartilage vascularization, since Vegfa CKO mice showed delayed invasion of blood vessels into primary ossification centers and delayed removal of terminal hypertrophic chondrocytes. Second, VEGFA is crucial for chondrocyte survival, since massive cell death was seen in joint and epiphyseal regions of Vegfa CKO endochondral bones. Chondrocytes in these regions were found to upregulate expression of Vegfa in wild-type mice at the time when massive cell death occurred in the Vegfa CKO mice. The expression of the VEGFA receptors Npr1 and Npr2 in epiphyseal chondrocytes and lack of blood vessel reduction in the vicinity of the cartilaginous elements in the Vegfa CKO mice raise the possibility that the observed cell death is the result of a direct involvement of VEGFA in chondrocyte survival. Interestingly, the extensive cell death seen in Vegfa CKO null bones had a striking similarity to the cell death phenotype observed when hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (Hif1a) expression was abolished in developing cartilage. This similarity of cell death phenotypes and the deficient VEGFA production in Hif1a null epiphyseal chondrocytes demonstrate that HIF1 alpha and VEGFA are components of a key pathway to support chondrocyte survival during embryonic bone development.[1]


  1. VEGFA is necessary for chondrocyte survival during bone development. Zelzer, E., Mamluk, R., Ferrara, N., Johnson, R.S., Schipani, E., Olsen, B.R. Development (2004) [Pubmed]
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