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

Vascular endothelial growth factor mediates vasogenic edema in acute lead encephalopathy.

Brain injury from inorganic Pb(2+) is considered the most important environmental childhood health hazard worldwide. The microvasculature of the developing brain is uniquely susceptible to high level Pb(2+) toxicity (ie, Pb(2+) encephalopathy) characterized by cerebellar hemorrhage, increased blood-brain barrier permeability, and vasogenic edema. However, the specific molecular mediators of Pb(2+) encephalopathy have been elusive. We found that Pb(2+) induces vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular permeability factor (VEGF) in cultured astrocytes (J Biol Chem, 2000;275:27874-27882). The study presented here asks if VEGF dysregulation contributes mechanistically to Pb(2+) encephalopathy. Neonatal rats exposed to 4% Pb-carbonate develop the histopathological features of Pb(2+) encephalopathy seen in children. Cerebellar VEGF expression increased approximately twofold (p < 0.01) concurrent with the development of cerebellar microvascular hemorrhage, enhanced vascular permeability to serum albumin, and vasogenic cerebellar edema (p < 0.01). No change in VEGF expression occurred in cerebral cortex that does not develop these histopathological complications of acute Pb(2+) intoxication. Pb(2+) exposure increased phosphorylation of cerebellar Flk-1 VEGF receptors and the Flk-1 inhibitor CEP-3967 completely blocked cerebellar edema formation without affecting microhemorrhage formation or blood-brain barrier permeability. This establishes that Pb(2+)-induced vasogenic edema formation develops via a Flk-1-dependent mechanism and suggests that the vascular permeability caused by Pb(2+) is Flk-1 independent.[1]


  1. Vascular endothelial growth factor mediates vasogenic edema in acute lead encephalopathy. Hossain, M.A., Russell, J.C., Miknyoczki, S., Ruggeri, B., Lal, B., Laterra, J. Ann. Neurol. (2004) [Pubmed]
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